NASA capsule buzzes moon, last big step before lunar orbit

NASA’s Orion capsule reached the moon Monday, whipping around the back side and passing within 80 miles (128 kilometers) on its way to a record-breaking

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA’s Orion capsule reached the moon Monday, whipping around the back side and passing within 80 miles (128 kilometers) on its way to a record-breaking lunar orbit.

The close approach occurred as the crew capsule and its three test dummies were on the far side of the moon. Because of the half-hour communication blackout, flight controllers in Houston did not know if the critical engine firing went well until the capsule emerged from behind the moon, more than 232,000 miles (375,000 kilometers) from Earth.

It’s the first time a capsule has visited the moon since NASA’s Apollo program 50 years ago, and represented a huge milestone in the $4.1 billion test flight that began last Wednesday. Orion’s flight path took it over the landing sites of Apollo 11, 12 and 14 — humanity’s first three lunar touchdowns.

NASA's Orion capsule approaches the moon.NASAThe moon loomed ever larger in the video beamed back earlier in the morning, as the capsule closed the final few thousand miles since blasting off last Wednesday from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center, atop the most powerful rocket ever built by NASA.

“This is one of those days that you’ve been thinking about and talking about for a long, long time,” flight director Zeb Scoville said while awaiting to resume contact.

https://www.nbcnews.com/science/space/nasa-capsule-buzzes-moon-last-big-step-lunar-orbit-rcna58137


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