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Orion surpasses Apollo 13: Artemis I sets a new distance record from Earth for NASA

The US agency’s Orion capsule has managed to beat the mark set in 1970 by the Apollo 13 spacecraft, with a final record of nearly 270,000 miles from Earth.

The US agency's Orion capsule has managed to beat the mark set in 1970 by the Apollo 13 spacecraft, with a final record of nearly 270,000 miles from Earth.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has reached a new milestone in space travel. “Houston, we have a new record”, announced the space agency after confirming that the Orion capsule had managed to break the remote distance record for a ship capable of transporting humans. For now, no humans were traveling onboard, but three ‘armed’ mannequins to detect radiation and acceleration.

With this, it exceeds the previous mark, set by the ship Apollo 13, which after being seriously damaged by an explosion that occurred on board had to return to Earth with a challenging maneuver calculated with hardly any time. A failure that the agency hopes will not be repeated. “Orion spacecraft will break the record for farthest distance traveled by a spacecraft designed to carry humans to space and safely return them to Earth.”

Early last Tuesday, the capsule passed very close to the Moon, around 62 miles above its surface, while last Saturday it passed the Apollo mark (set on April 15, 1970 ), 248,655 statute miles away from Earth. And finally, it reached nearly 270,000 miles out into space (about 40,000 beyond the Moon) . All of this, following a “distant” and “retrograde” orbit (due to the fact that Artemis is orbiting the Moon, but in the opposite direction to that of the satellite around the Earth).

A 'lighter' engine

A characteristic orbit, due to its great amplitude: it would include, in addition to the Moon, the Langrange point L1, the place where the attraction between planet and satellite is balanced. Orion, thus, navigates through a landscape of gravitational valleys and hills that varies as the satellite advances within its trajectory. “Because of the unbelievable can-do spirit, Artemis I has had extraordinary success and has completed a series of history making events,” NASA celebrated in a statement.

Artemis’s ‘journey’ is also special due to the fact that it managed to enter orbit with minimal fuel consumption, taking advantage of this gravitational landscape and the ‘pull’ of the Moon itself. The engine used barely two tons of fuel, which is four times less than what was used by the Apollo engines to carry out the same manoeuvre. So the engine can be less powerful than it was 50 years ago, and it also needs fewer propellant reserves.

A piece that, moreover, has been used from the old NASA Shuttles: one of the orbital braking reactors, which had previously flown dozens of times. Now, after the long journey, the Orion capsule is so far from the Moon that it has left its gravitational sphere of influence, looking like just another satellite revolving in its own orbit around the Earth.


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