Re-journey to the Moon: NASA’s Orion spacecraft returned safely to Earth

The Orion spacecraft, designed with the aim of realizing the American National Aeronautics and Space Agency’s (NASA) plan to send astronauts to the Moon again, completed its 26-day space mission and returned to Earth safely.

The Orion spacecraft, which carried out its test mission under the Artemis program without a crew, landed near the Mexican island of Guadalupe in the Pacific Ocean (Pacific Ocean) after orbiting the Moon.


Orion was launched on November 16 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida aboard the Artemis, NASA’s most powerful rocket to date. Orion’s next voyage is expected to take place in the last months of 2024 and will undertake more complex missions. In 2025 or 2026 expeditions, human footsteps will be attempted again on the Moon’s surface.

NASA Director Bill Nelson said: “We made the impossible ‘possible’ during the Apollo era. Now we will do it again, but this time for a different purpose. This time we are going to the Moon to learn how to live, work and produce there, because from here we will explore deeper into the universe. Our plan is 2030” “To be ready for a manned mission to Mars at the end of the year,” he said.

The last manned voyage to the Moon was made exactly 50 years ago, on December 11, 1972, by the Apollo 17 crew.

American astronaut Neil Armstrong, on the other hand, became the first human to set foot on the Moon’s surface on July 20, 1969, saying “One small step for man, but one giant leap for mankind”, leaving the Eagle spacecraft.


Return to the moon: NASA's Orion spacecraft returned safely to Earth


During the 6 Apollo missions between 1969 and 1972, 12 astronauts walked on the Moon. The Artemis program, run by the SLS-Orion spacecraft, is the first step in a long-term space exploration project that NASA actually aims to travel to the Moon and then to Mars.

NASA’s lunar return project is named after Artemis, the sister of Apollo in Greek mythology.


The first expedition of the SLS-Orion spacecraft was significant as it was a test to see if the vehicle was reliable enough to carry NASA astronauts. NASA has described the vehicle’s safe return to Earth as its “first priority”.

Vehicles returning from the Moon accelerate to very high speeds, and some of them can enter The Earth’s Atmosphere At 40 Thousand Km Per Hour. Vehicles need a very strong heat shield to prevent them from being shattered by frictional heat, which can reach up to 3000 degrees Celsius.

Under the Orion, a different heat shield design was used than previous vehicles. In order not to endanger the lives of the astronauts, NASA needed to make sure that this design worked.

“This mission has been a huge success for us. This shows that the spacecraft has the necessary skeleton and all the other features it needs,” said Vanessa Wyche, Director of NASA ‘s Johnson Space Center.


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