The European Space Agency (ESA) has shared a cinematic video that summarizes the recent Artemis I mission in just 60 seconds.
That’s a lot for a journey that lasted 25 days, but we’re sure you’ll agree that the presentation does a great job of bringing together key moments from the mission while also featuring some of the mesmerizing images captured by the Orion spacecraft were created during its encounter with the moon.
The uncrewed Artemis I mission tested NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft on their first orbital mission. ESA designed and oversaw the development of Orion’s service module, which provides air, electricity and propulsion to the capsule.
During the journey, the spacecraft traveled to within just 80 miles of the lunar surface and also traveled farther from Earth than any human-rated spacecraft — 268,553 miles — beating the previous record set five decades ago during the Apollo era.
Orion’s successful homecoming on Dec. 11 suggests that the hardware performed as expected, though NASA engineers are now checking data from the Orion spacecraft to confirm that all of the capsule’s systems worked properly during the mission.
The first signs are certainly good. “Orion has returned from the moon and is safely back on planet Earth,” Artemis I mission manager Mike Sarafin said shortly after the spacecraft’s homecoming. “With splashdown, we successfully operated Orion into deep space, where it exceeded our expectations, and demonstrated that Orion can withstand the extreme conditions of reentry through Earth’s atmosphere from lunar velocities.”
If NASA concludes that indeed everything worked exactly as expected, the space agency can proceed to plan Artemis II, which will send Orion on the same route around the moon, only this time with astronauts on board.
Artemis II could take place as early as 2024, and after that the highly anticipated Artemis III mission will place the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface, a journey that will also mark the first astronaut landing on the moon since the last Apollo mission in 1972.
Looking even further ahead, NASA wants to build a permanent base on the moon where astronauts can live and work for extended periods of time. The moon could also serve as a springboard for the first manned mission to Mars, which NASA says could take place in the 2030s.