After a lunar flyby, NASA’s Orion spacecraft is set to splash down on Sunday

After a lunar flyby, NASA's Orion spacecraft is set to splash down on Sunday
Written by admin

Orion, Moon and crescent Earth on Monday.
To enlarge 🇧🇷 Orion, Moon and crescent Earth on Monday.


The Orion spacecraft swung by the moon on Monday, flying within 80 miles (130 km) of the world’s surface as it set a course for its return to Earth this weekend.

During this “power flight burn” to get away from the moon, Orion’s service module fired its longest main engine, lasting 3 minutes and 27 seconds. After successfully completing the maneuver, NASA’s mission board gave the go-ahead to send the recovery teams to the Pacific Ocean, where Orion will splash mid-day on Sunday.

Orion has now completed four main thruster burns, entering orbit around the Moon and exiting orbit again during a deep space mission. This completes a major test of the spacecraft and its propulsion service module, built by the European Space Agency. A standard version of Orion flew in 2014, but did so without a service module.

As part of this Artemis I mission, NASA is now three weeks into a 25.5-day test flight of the Orion spacecraft. The goal is to confirm the spacecraft’s capabilities before human flight in about two years, following the Artemis II mission.

Orion has achieved most of its primary objectives so far, with only the entry, landing and bounce part of its mission ahead. The spacecraft’s heat shield must demonstrate re-entry capability at 39,400 km/h. That big test will take place during Sunday’s fiery re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.

A small power issue

So far, Orion’s test flight has gone pretty well. Typically, new spacecraft have thrusters, navigation or onboard avionics, etc. there are problems with However, Orion has had no major problems. The only real troubleshooting is a problem with the power systems in the car.

The problem occurred with Orion’s four “locking current limiters” that help transfer power to the engine and heating systems. For some reason, the automated controllers on the Orion ordered the four current limiters to “open” when no such command should have been sent. “We’re not exactly sure what the root cause of the problem is, but teams are testing on the ground,” Orion Program Deputy Manager Debbie Korth said during a briefing Monday evening at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Overall, the Orion spacecraft performed like a champion.
To enlarge 🇧🇷 Overall, the Orion spacecraft performed like a champion.


This system is a bit like a circuit breaker box in a house, and for some reason it has four switches that are turned on when it shouldn’t be. This did not pose a threat to Orion as it has backup power systems. If there was a crew on board, a small procedure would be required to explain the problem.

In an interview after the news briefing, Korth said he did not think the malfunction would affect the service module that would be used for the Artemis II mission. This device is already built and tested in the USA.

“I think it’s probably too early to be sure, but ideally we wouldn’t want to disturb the Artemis II service module,” he said. “That might be something we can control with software.”

About the author


Leave a Comment