"Exceeded Expectations" - Orion probe conducts initial inspection

“Exceeded Expectations” – Orion probe conducts initial inspection

On the third day of the Artemis I mission, Orion maneuvered its solar arrays and caught the moon with a camera mounted at the end of the array. The spaceship is now halfway to the moon. Recognition:

NASA
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On the third day of its Artemis I journey, NASA’s uncrewed Orion spacecraft is now more than halfway to the Moon.

“Today, we met to review the Orion spacecraft performance, and it is exceeding performance expectations,” said Mike Sarafin, Artemis I mission manager.

Flight controllers used Orion’s cameras on Friday to inspect the crew module thermal protection system and European Service Module. This was the first of two planned external evaluations for the spacecraft. Teams conducted this survey early in the mission to provide detailed images of the spacecraft’s external surfaces after it has flown through the portion of Earth’s orbit where the majority of space debris resides.

The second inspection is required during the return phase to assess the overall condition of the spacecraft several days before re-entry. During both inspections, the Integrated Communications Officer, or INCO, commands cameras on the four solar array wings to take still images of the entire spacecraft, allowing experts to pinpoint any micrometeoroid or orbital debris strikes. The team in mission control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston will review the imagery following the survey.

Artemis All Access is your look at the latest in Artemis I, the people and technology behind the mission, and what’s next. This unmanned flight test around the moon will pave the way for a manned flight test and future human lunar exploration as part of Artemis. Photo credit: NASA

In recent days, a team has been assessing anomalous star tracker data correlated with engine firings. Star trackers are sensitive cameras that take pictures of the star field around Orion. By comparing the images with the built-in star map, the star tracker can determine which direction Orion is facing. Teams now understands the metrics and there are no operational changes.

NASA has also received updates from teams associated with the 10 CubeSats, which were launched into space on a ring attached to the upper stage of the Space Launch System rocket. All 10 CubeSats were successfully timed by the adapter. The individual missions of the CubeSats are separate from Artemis I. The small satellites, each about the size of a shoebox, are inherently risky and rewarding, and teams are at various stages of mission operations or, in some cases, troubleshooting.

NASA hosted a briefing on Friday (see embedded video below) announcing Orion’s arrival in the moon’s sphere of influence. To follow the mission in real time, you can follow Orion during its mission around the moon and back, and check the NASA TV schedule for updates on upcoming TV events. The first episode of Artemis All Access is available now (see embedded video above) as a recap of the first three days of the mission with a preview of what’s to come next.

From NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, NASA anticipates the Orion spacecraft’s entry into the moon’s sphere of influence and the two maneuvers that will propel the spacecraft into a distant retrograde lunar orbit. The participant briefing includes:

  • Mike Sarafin, Mission Manager Artemis I, NASA Headquarters
  • Jeff Radigan, Director of Flight, NASA Johnson
  • Jim Geffre, Orion vehicle integration manager, NASA Johnson

With Orion entering the Moon’s sphere of influence, the Moon, rather than Earth, becomes the main gravitational force acting on the spacecraft. Flight controllers will conduct an outward powered flyby to harness the power of the moon’s gravity to accelerate the spacecraft and direct it to a distant retrograde orbit beyond the moon. During the outgoing powered flyby, Orion will make its closest approach — about 80 miles — to the lunar surface. Four days later, another burn with the European Service Module will put Orion into a distant retrograde orbit, where it will remain for about a week to test spacecraft systems.


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