Friday, December 09, 2022

NASA Preview of Artemis I Orion Spacecraft Splashdown

On Dec. 8, 2022, NASA experts previewed the upcoming entry, descent, and splashdown of the Orion spacecraft, which will conclude the Artemis I mission. After 25.5 days in space, Orion is expected to splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego at 12:40 p.m. EST (17:40 UTC) on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022. The exploration ground systems recovery team from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, working with the U.S. Navy, will recover the spacecraft. Live coverage for this event begins at 11 a.m. EST (16:00 UTC).

Just before re-entry, the crew module and service module will separate and only the crew module will return to Earth while the service module burns up in Earth’s atmosphere upon re-entry over the Pacific Ocean. The Artemis I trajectory is designed to ensure any remaining parts do not pose a hazard to land, people, or shipping lanes.

After separating from the service module, the crew module will prepare to perform a skip entry technique that enables the spacecraft to accurately and consistently splash down at the selected landing site. Orion will dip into the upper part of Earth’s atmosphere and use that atmosphere, along with the lift of the capsule, to skip back out of the atmosphere, then reenter for final descent under parachutes and splash down. This technique will allow a safe re-entry for future Artemis missions regardless of when and where they return from the Moon.

Earth’s atmosphere initially will slow the spacecraft to 325 mph, then the parachutes will slow Orion to a splashdown speed in about 10 minutes as it descends through Earth’s atmosphere. Parachute deployment begins at an altitude of about five miles with three small parachutes pulling the forward bay covers away. Once the forward bay cover separates, two drogue parachutes will slow and stabilize the crew module for main parachute deployment. At an altitude of 9,500 feet and a spacecraft speed of 130 mph, three pilot parachutes will lift and deploy the main parachutes. Those 116-foot-diameter parachutes of nylon broadcloth, or “silk,” will slow the Orion crew module to a splashdown speed of 20 mph or less.

The parachute system includes 11 parachutes made of 36,000 square feet of canopy material. The canopy is attached to the top of the spacecraft with more than 13 miles of Kevlar lines that are deployed in series using cannon-like mortars and pyrotechnic thrusters and bolt cutters. Learn more about Orion’s parachute system in the Artemis I reference guide.

NASA TV coverage of Artemis I’s return to Earth begins at 11 a.m. EST on Sunday, Dec. 11. The Orion spacecraft is scheduled to splash down in the Pacific Ocean at 12:40 p.m. near Guadalupe Island.
Watch here: 

The first in a series of increasingly complex missions, Artemis I is an uncrewed flight test that will provide a foundation for human deep space exploration. It will demonstrate NASA's commitment and capability to extend human existence to the Moon and beyond. Orion is completing a 25-day test of all key systems. It will travel 280,000 miles from Earth, thousands of miles beyond the Moon. Orion will stay in space longer than any ship for astronauts has done without docking to a space station and return home faster and hotter than ever before.

On the Artemis III Mission, NASA will land the first woman and the first person of color on the surface of the Moon, paving the way for a long-term lunar presence and serving as a steppingstone on the way to Mars. 

Orion launched aboard the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket at 1:47 am EST (6:47 UTC) on Nov. 16, 2022, from historic Launch Complex 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

The Artemis I mission is the first integrated test of NASA’s deep space exploration systems: the Orion spacecraft, the SLS rocket, and Kennedy Space Center's Exploration Ground Systems.

Learn more about Artemis I:

Credit: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Duration: 57 minutes

Release Date: Nov. 8, 2022

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