NASA’s Orion crew vehicle successfully completes Moon flyby

NASA’s Orion spacecraft has successfully completed one of the key maneuvers of its maiden journey: a flyby of the Moon during which it got as close as 81 miles to the lunar surface. This was important for a few reasons, not least because it marked a critical test for the propulsion system.

Orion carried out four trajectory correction burns on its way to the Moon, but this time around, the orbital maneuvering system engine fired for 2 minutes and 30 seconds. This accelerated Orion at a rate of more than 580MPH. 

At the time the burn started, the uncrewed spacecraft was traveling at 5,023MPH, 238 miles above the Moon. Shortly after the burn, it was 81 miles above the lunar surface and it was traveling at 5,102MPH.

The flyby burn was one of two necessary maneuvers for Orion to enter its retrograde orbit around the Moon. Next up is the distant retrograde orbit insertion burn, which is slated to take place on Friday.