Orion Spacecraft now in Lunar Orbit

The Earth is seen from the Orion Spacecraft on Monday November 21st as the craft made its closest pass over the Moon.Photo: NASA

After making a pass over the Moon at an altitude of approximately 81 miles above the surface, the unmanned Orion spacecraft is now in a deep space elliptical orbit that will arc as far as 40,000 miles over the Earth's celestial neighbor.

Artemis 1 launched on November 16th on a scheduled 26-day mission designed as a test flight of the Space Launch System rocket, Orion spacecraft and various ground control systems in preparation for the Artemis 2 and 3 missions currently planned for 2024 and 2025, respectively. 

During Monday morning's close pass over the lunar surface, Orion flew over Tranquility Base, the landing site of Apollo 11 in 1969. At the time, the site was in the dark phase of the Moon, but when Orion makes its next low pass over Tranquility Base on December 5th there will be sunlight and NASA plans to photograph the site.

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