Home National news NASA Artemis 1 Mission Recap

NASA Artemis 1 Mission Recap

by Cass Teague
At 1240 p.m. EST, Dec. 11, 2022, NASA’s Orion spacecraft for the Artemis I mission splashed down in the Pacific Ocean after a 25.5 day mission to the Moon. Orion will be recovered by NASA’s Landing and Recovery team, U.S. Navy and Department of Defense partners aboard the USS Portland. (Credit NASA / James M. Blair)

The United States space program is committed to returning human beings to the moon this decade, and then taking them to Mars. NASA’s Orion spacecraft successfully completed a parachute-assisted splashdown in the Pacific Ocean at 9:40 PST, 11:40 CST Sunday, December 11 as the final major milestone of the Artemis I mission. Artemis is the first step in the next era of human exploration. Together with commercial and international partners, NASA will establish a sustainable presence on the Moon to prepare for missions to Mars.

NASA’s Artemis I mission lifted off on Nov. 16, 2022, from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39B. With 8.8 million pounds of thrust, the Space Launch System (SLS), is NASA’s most powerful rocket. It stands 322 feet tall, with a mass at liftoff of 5.75 million pounds, and the ability take a payload to the moon of 59,000 pounds.

It sent the uncrewed Orion spacecraft beyond the Moon, 280,000 miles from Earth, farther than any human-rated spacecraft has ever flown. After 25 days, 10 hours, 53 minutes, and a total distance of 1.3 miIlion miles, Orion has returned home faster and hotter than any spacecraft has before. Its re-entry speed was 24,500 mph (Mach 32).

The Orion is the next generation spacecraft, designed for the demands of human missions to deep space. Its crew and service module height are 26 feet, with a pressurized volume of 690.6 cubic feet, comprising a mass to the moon of 53,000 pounds, with a return mass at landing of 18,200 pounds.

The first in a series of increasingly complex missions, Artemis I demonstrates our commitment and capability to build a long-term human presence at the Moon for decades to come. The primary goals for Artemis I were to demonstrate Orion’s systems in a spaceflight environment and ensure a safe re-entry, descent, splashdown, and recovery prior to the first flight with crew on Artemis II.

Artemis is the twin sister of Apollo and goddess of the Moon in Greek mythology. Now, she personifies our path to the Moon as the name of NASA’s efforts to return astronauts and a new wave of science payloads and technology demonstrations to the lunar surface. When they land, American astronauts will step foot where no human has ever been before: the Moon’s South Pole.

Artemis I was the first integrated test of NASA’s deep space exploration systems – the Orion spacecraft, SLS rocket, and the supporting ground systems – and was supported by thousands of people around the world, from contractors who built the spacecraft and rocket, and the ground infrastructure needed to launch them, to international and university partners, to small businesses supplying subsystems and components. Through Artemis missions, NASA will establish a long-term lunar presence for scientific discovery and prepare for human missions to Mars.

With Artemis missions, NASA will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon, using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before. We will collaborate with commercial and international partners and establish the first long-term presence on the Moon. Then, we will use what we learn on and around the Moon to take the next giant leap: sending the first astronauts to Mars.

We’re going back to the Moon for scientific discovery, economic benefits, and inspiration for a new generation of explorers: the Artemis Generation. While maintaining American leadership in exploration, we will build a global alliance and explore deep space for the benefit of all.

Every state in America has contributed to building Artemis, with companies hard at work to build the systems that will help establish a long-term human presence at the Moon. Contributions from men and women across America and in Europe are critical to the space economy, fueling new industries and technologies, supporting job growth, and furthering the demand for a highly skilled workforce.

We will build an Artemis Base Camp on the surface and the Gateway in lunar orbit. These elements will allow our robots and astronauts to explore more and conduct more science than ever before.

NASA’s powerful new rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), will launch from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, FL, to send astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft nearly a quarter-million miles from Earth to lunar orbit. Astronauts will dock Orion at the Gateway and transfer to a human landing system for expeditions to the surface of the Moon. They will return to the orbital outpost to board Orion again before returning safely to Earth.

“The splashdown of the Orion spacecraft – which occurred 50 years to the day of the Apollo 17 Moon landing – is the crowning achievement of Artemis I. From the launch of the world’s most powerful rocket to the exceptional journey around the Moon and back to Earth, this flight test is a major step forward in the Artemis Generation of lunar exploration,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “It wouldn’t be possible without the incredible NASA team. For years, thousands of individuals have poured themselves into this mission, which is inspiring the world to work together to reach untouched cosmic shores. Today is a huge win for NASA, the United States, our international partners, and all of humanity.”

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