The Artemis I Orion capsule splashes down after a NASA mission near the moon

The Artemis I Orion capsule It splashed down after a 25-day mission that came within 60 miles of the moon, completing the first step in an ambitious plan to establish a long-term presence there and then send a crewed spacecraft to Mars.

The spacecraft spent 25.5 days in space and traveled 1.4 million miles around the moon, according to NASA.

“Our spacecraft is home,” NASA tweeted at 9:41 a.m. Sunday, shortly after the splashdown near Baja California, Mexico.

Work past many Startup delaysThe unmanned capsule will return to Earth in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego.

The capsule performed well throughout the nearly month-long journey, said Mike Sarafin, Artemis I mission manager. Press conference Thursday.

“We are on track for a fully successful mission,” Sarafin told reporters, adding that the management team meets daily to monitor the capsule’s progress.

After returning to Earth, Orion will deploy parachutes and float into the ocean on its final descent, NASA Flight Director Judd Frayling said Thursday.

After Orion splashes down, the capsule will remain in the water for two hours as NASA tests the heat generated as it returns, Frayling said.

In this still image from NASA TV, NASA’s unmanned Orion spacecraft splashes over the Pacific Ocean in Baja California, Mexico on Dec. 11, 2022.

Jose Romero/NASA TV/AFP via Getty Images

Nov. Artemis had a rocky start with several failed attempts to get the rocket off the ground before its successful launch on the 16th.

The first launch attempt on August 29 was scrubbed due to a faulty temperature sensor that indicated an engine was not cooling properly when it actually was.

A second attempt was scrapped on September 3 after engineers discovered several liquid hydrogen leaks. Liquid hydrogen is one of the propellants needed to fill the rocket’s core.

A third attempt was postponed on September 27 after Hurricane Ian made landfall in southwest Florida and gradually moved into the northeastern part of the state and into the Carolinas.

In total, the Artemis mission consisted of four missions, each costing about $4.1 billion. The project will cost $93 billion by 2025 An audit From the NASA Office of the Inspector General.

Photo: NASA's Space Launch System rocket, with the Orion crew capsule, aboard the unmanned Artemis I mission to the Moon, Nov. 16, 2022, at Cape Canaveral, Fla.

NASA’s Space Launch System rocket with the Orion crew capsule launches on the unmanned Artemis I mission to the Moon, Nov. 16, 2022, at Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Joe Captain/Reuters

If Artemis I is deemed successful, Artemis II is planned to send four astronauts to the Moon in 2024 before returning to Earth.

Artemis III plans to send four astronauts to the Moon in 2025, including the first woman and the first person of color, with Artemis IV scheduled for a second lunar landing in 2027.

In addition to establishing a permanent base camp on the Moon, the project is also a gateway for human missions to Mars.

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