Mission control received a stunning photograph of the Earth and the Moon from outer space, as the Artemis I team celebrated the unmanned shuttle reaching the halfway point of its maiden voyage. NASA’s uncrewed Orion spacecraft reached the farthest distance from Earth it will travel during the Artemis I mission - 268,563 miles from the planet.
Upon reaching the halfway point on Monday evening (9pm GMT) on day 13 of the 25-day mission, the Orion captured its view from space. The image sent back to NASA showed the Moon and Earth in orbit, with the Moon looking like it is eclipsing the Earth in one of many images Orion captured during its voyage.
“It’s incredible just how smoothly this mission has gone,” NASA administrator Bill Nelson admitted after NASA confirmed the spacecraft remains in "healthy condition" as it continues its journey in a distant retrograde orbit. “Because of the unbelievable can-do spirit, Artemis I has had extraordinary success and has completed a series of history-making events.”
But Nelson was quick to settle the excitement for a moment, reinforcing the fact that “this is a test. That’s what we do – we test it and we stress it.”
The mission is due to conclude Saturday December 10 GMT, as NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems team and the U.S. Navy have already started their recovery training for the Orion when it splashes down in the Pacific Ocean.
The current mission for Artemis I is to see whether the rocket can orbit above the earth, traverse space to the Moon and then return back to earth without any issues. Should the rocket succeed in its first two missions, then a third all-female mission would be the final step of NASA’s Artemis space programme.