NASA's Artemis 1 rocket has launched the Orion capsule on its nearly a month-long mission around the Moon and back to Earth.
The Space Launch System's rocket lifted off from the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on November 16, carrying the Orion capsule up in Earth's atmosphere and eventually splitting off, so the spacecraft was able to put itself in place for its long journey around the Moon. Shortly after the rocket launch, Orion performed several maneuvers to put it on track to orbit the Moon, and some of those maneuvers were raising its orbit as well as orientating itself correctly.
Orion is now on a 25-day journey around the Moon, where it will travel more than 250,000 miles to reach Earth's closest neighbor, slingshot itself around the rock, and return back to Earth at extremely high speeds. Within 10 hours after launch, the Orion spacecraft had already covered 57,000 miles as its, traveling at about 5,460 miles per hour. When it was approximately 58,000 miles away from Earth, the small spacecraft used its cameras located on its solar panels and inside the cabin to snap some photographs.
NASA released these images providing the public with a very unique view of Earth as the image showcases a very small blue marble in a sea of black space. As for the image of the inside of Orion, the image showcases the mannequin equipped with a bunch of different sensors to inform NASA engineers on Earth what the mannequin is experiencing while on its trip. Researchers are interested in what levels of radiation the mannequin was exposed to and any other possible dangers for human astronauts that can be mitigated.
During the trip, NASA will be testing a variety of instruments on Orion, such as communication, navigation, electrical, maneuvering, life support systems, and more. Additionally, the space agency is looking forward to putting Orion's heat shield up for its first and main test when the spacecraft re-enters Earth's atmosphere at extreme speeds. Essentially, Artemis 1 is a reconnaissance mission designed to gather as much information as possible to inform future missions such as Artemis 2 and eventually Artemis 3 when humans walk on the lunar surface once again.