Unmanned NASA rocket arrives at the moon half a century after the last lunar mission

After several delayed launches and a five-day space journey of nearly 375,000 kilometers, NASA’s Orion rocket has finally arrived at the moon. At 1:57 p.m., the unmanned spacecraft flew about 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the celestial body, the closest distance to the lunar surface it will reach during the mission.

It is the first time in fifty years that NASA has sent a rocket to the moon. The Artemis 1 mission should pave the way for a manned space mission to the moon. Where the seats are still occupied by dolls, Artemis 2 will be manned in 2024. Four astronauts then orbit the moon. The third Artemis mission, scheduled for 2025, is intended to have two astronauts actually set foot on the moon.

The launch of the lunar rocket has been postponed several times. Twice technical problems caused delays and when Hurricane Ian headed for the Florida launch site in September, the spacecraft was returned to the hangar.

Now that the lunar rocket has come close to the lunar surface for the first time, the primary rocket motor will be started. The intention is that Orion will then circle around the moon for a week to take measurements. The rocket’s return journey will begin on December 1, and if all goes well, it will return to Earth on December 11. There it will land in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of California.

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