NASA Moon mission 'exceeding' expectations.

NASA's Orion spacecraft en route for the Moon, with the Earth in the background, in a photo released by NASA in November 2022.
NASA's Orion spacecraft en route for the Moon, with the Earth in the background, in a photo released by NASA in November 2022.

The Orion spacecraft is "exceeding performance expectations" three days after departing Florida for the Moon, according to NASA officials on Friday.

In the next years, the spaceship will transport people to the Moon, allowing them to walk on its surface for the first time since the last Apollo mission in 1972.

The goal of this maiden test flight without a crew is to make sure the vehicle is secure.

According to Mike Sarafin, mission director for the Artemis 1 mission, "Today we met to discuss the Orion spacecraft performance... It is surpassing performance expectations."

According to Jim Geffre, the Orion manager at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, the spacecraft's four solar panels, each measuring approximately 13 feet (four meters) long, successfully deployed and are producing more energy than anticipated.

The spaceship is being controlled from that control center in Texas.

Orion is getting set to launch the first of the mission's four major thrusts while already being around 200,000 miles (320,000 kilometers) from Earth.

In order to take advantage of the Moon's gravitational pull, this early-morning Monday maneuver will put the spacecraft as close as 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the lunar surface.

As this will occur on the far side of the Moon, NASA anticipates losing communication with the spacecraft for around 35 minutes.

Although they will travel in complete darkness, flight director Jeff Radigan stated, "We will be going over several of the Apollo landing sites." NASA will make video of the flyby available.

A second engine impulse will put Orion in a far-off orbit around the Moon four days later.

The craft will go a record-breaking 40,000 kilometers beyond the Moon for a livable capsule.

After around 25 days of flight, it will start its return trip to Earth, with a landing in the Pacific Ocean planned for December 11.

If this mission is a success, it will set the stage for Artemis 2, which will fly men around the Moon without a landing, and Artemis 3, which would eventually bring people back to the lunar surface.

Both of those missions are slated to launch in 2024 and 2025.

Additionally, Sarafin said on Friday that while ten research micro-satellites had been launched when the rocket lifted off, half of them were having communication or technical issues.

However, the results of those trials, which were conducted independently by different teams, will not affect the primary goal.

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