NASA's Orion Breaks Apollo 13 Record

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On Saturday, November 26, at 8:40 a.m. EST, NASA revealed that the Orion spacecraft has now travelled the farthest distance from Earth in over 50 years.

This surpasses Apollo 13’s ‘Odyssey’ record in 1970, at 248,655 miles (400,171 km) from Earth.  

Having entered high-altitude orbit around the Moon, and currently cruising at 1,750 miles per hour, today (Nov. 28), Orion will reach its maximum distance from Earth at approximately 272,514.9 miles. 

NASA’s Orion spacecraft, powered by an ESA European Service Module, was successfully launched to the Moon from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on 16 November 2022.  

As the first major spaceflight of the Artemis program, this mission is testing the Orion spacecraft’s capabilities; the systems, and procedures that would be used for crewed flights.  

 “Following a successful launch on NASA’s Space Launch System rocket, Artemis I is testing the Orion spacecraft on a rigorous mission in the extreme environment of deep space around the Moon”, NASA said. This multistage plan to assess its durability will result in sending astronauts to the moon and beyond in future missions. 

After entering a distant retrograde orbit on Friday, Nov. 25, the US Space Agency stated, “it will take Orion nearly a week to complete half an orbit around the Moon, where it will exit the orbit for the return journey home.” 

If successful, it will allow the Artemis programme to eventually send astronauts on Artemis II in 2024. 

 Although this test flight is uncrewed, it is carrying three suited mannequins, and the European Space Agency’s newest astronaut – Shaun the Sheep, travelling further than any human has before!  

Image: NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard

Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)