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Mission Complete: NASA's Orion Spacecraft Splashes Down In Pacific Ocean

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Sunday, Dec 11, 2022 - 05:41 PM

Update (1241ET):

Welcome home, Orion. Moon mission complete. 

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Update (1228ET): 

Orion has entered the Earth's atmosphere.

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Update (1115 ET):

NASA’s uncrewed Orion capsule is set to splash down in the Pacific Ocean around 12:40 pm est, off the coast of Mexico’s Baja California. 

Live coverage begins at 11 am est. 

As of 10:24 am est, Orion was 20,000 miles from Earth -- traveling at 9,600 mph, NASA said in a tweet. 

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NASA's historic uncrewed Artemis 1 mission to the moon and back will conclude on Sunday with the Orion spacecraft returning to Earth. 

On Sunday afternoon, the Orion spacecraft will slam through Earth's atmosphere at 25,000 mph, or about 32 times the speed of sound. It will heat up to 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit before splashing into the Pacific Ocean off the western coast of Baja California at 12:40 pm EST. 

Orion's descent operations begin around 12 pm EST. Forty minutes later, the spacecraft should be in the ocean if everything runs on schedule. Here's the splashdown schedule for tomorrow (courtesy of Space.com): 

"At present, we are on track to have a fully successful mission with some bonus objectives that we've achieved along the way," Mike Sarafin, Artemis I mission manager, told reporters Thursday evening.

One of the most crucial parts of the mission will be testing the heat shield as Orion enters Earth's atmosphere. If all goes well, this could indicate NASA is ready to fly astronauts around the moon in 2024 and then put them on the lunar surface by 2025. 

Meanwhile, Elon Musk's SpaceX just announced a privately-funded moon mission with DJ Steve Aoki and a Japanese billionaire that could occur soon. 

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