NASA’s Orion spacecraft breaks Apollo 13 flight record
The Artemis 1 Orion crew vehicle has set a new record for a NASA flight. At about 8:40 a.m. ET on Saturday, Orion flew farther than any spacecraft ever designed to carry human astronauts, surpassing the previous record set by Apollo 13 in 1970. At 10:17 a.m. ET, Orion was about 249,666 miles (from 401,798 kilometers) from the earth.
“Artemis I was designed to emphasize Orion’s systems and we chose the distant retrograde orbit as a really good way to do that,” said Jim GeffreOrion spacecraft integration manager. “It just so happened that with that really big orbit, high altitude above the moon, we were able to break the Apollo 13 record. But what was more important was pushing the boundaries of exploration and sending spacecraft farther than ever before.”
Of all the missions that could have broken the record, it’s fitting that Artemis 1 was the one that did. As Space. com points out, Apollo 13’s original flight plan did not call for a record-breaking flight. Only after an explosion mid-mission forced NASA to chart a new reentry course did Apollo 13’s Odyssey command module set the previous record at 248,655 miles (400,171 kilometers) from Earth.
With a limited oxygen supply on the Aquarius Lunar Module, NASA needed to get Apollo 13 back to Earth as quickly as possible. The agency eventually settled on a flight path that used the moon’s gravity to hurl Apollo 13 back toward Earth. One of the NASA employees critical to the safe return of astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise was Arthur Fields. He wrote the contingency plan that gave the Command and Service Module enough power to get back to Earth. Artemis 1 wears a “Moon tootest dummy named after the late Arturo.
Earlier this week, Orion completed one fly past the moon. After the spacecraft completes a half-orbit around the satellite, it will hurl itself toward Earth. NASA expects Orion to crash off the coast of San Diego on December 11.
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