Pic of the Week: Orion Over the Moon

Image (Credit): Surface of the Moon as captured by the Orion spacecraft. (NASA)

This week’s image of the lunar surface comes from NASA’s Orion spacecraft as it orbited the Moon on December 5th. Orion is now on its way back and is expected to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere on December 11th.

Regarding the return of the Orion crew module, NASA stated:

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 landing point is in the Pacific Ocean near Guadalupe Island. It should be a strong finish to a successful Artemis mission.