In order to return to Earth, NASA’s Artemis 1 spacecraft departs from a far-off retrograde orbit

On December 2, at 3:23 AM IST, the Orion spacecraft of the Artemis 1 mission ignited its main engine for almost one minute and 45 seconds to leave a far-off retrograde orbit of the Moon. One of two manoeuvres necessary before Orion’s anticipated splashdown in the Pacific Ocean on December 11 is this engine burn.

On Monday, December 5, the spacecraft will then travel 127 kilometres over the Moon’s surface. Mission teams continued testing star trackers’ thermal capabilities in the interim. With the aid of these star trackers, Orion can determine its orientation in space by measuring the stars’ positions.

The Orion spacecraft set a new record for the distance from Earth that a human-rated spacecraft has travelled on Saturday, November 26 when it travelled 258,655 miles. The Apollo 13 spacecraft, which travelled 248,655 miles from our planet, previously held this record. On November 29, the mission’s midpoint was reached.