New NASA drone video shows Artemis spacecraft sticking the landing

NASA ended the year with the successful return of Orion, the new lunar ship that will one day send astronauts back to the lunar surface.

After more than 25 days of endurance testing in space, with Orion’s odometer reading 1.4 million miles, the Artemis I mission ended on December 11 at 12:40 p.m. ET with a splash in the Pacific Ocean off Mexico’s Baja Peninsula California A U.S. space agency drone captured that historic feat — which senior mission leaders have dubbed a “textbook” — in a five-minute video released Wednesday.

Accompanied by a symphony of whirring helicopter blades, the footage (below) shows Orion emerging from the clouds using an unprecedented reentry technique known as “jump entry.” During the maneuver, the lunar ship skimmed Earth’s atmosphere before plunging toward the sea.


NASA’s Artemis splashdown will put Orion to the test

The mission ushered in the hottest and fastest landing of a manned spacecraft in history. Orion pierced the atmosphere while traveling at 25,000 miles per hour — 32 times the speed of sound. By comparison, the space shuttle’s descent reached about 17,500 miles per hour, said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, a former astronaut.

The extreme friction intended to slow the new lunar ship generated temperatures of 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mission leaders say the benefit of this searing entry is that it splits the intense G-force exertions — the heavy feeling of pressing against a body during extreme acceleration — into two smaller events. Although the capsule currently has no people on board, NASA believes mastering the skip entry will make Artemis astronauts who would experience these effects safer in the future. When people are subjected to forces much greater than normal gravity, their heart is subjected to tremendous pressure, causing dizziness and sometimes fainting.

Navy divers recover the Orion spacecraft

Navy divers on several small boats recovered the lunar ship after it splashed down.
Photo credit: NASA

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Drone video shows Orion passing the critical test of its New Age heat shield, surviving reentry and decelerating to 20 miles per hour under a three-parachute roof as it tumbles into the ocean. NASA moved the splash site south to avoid inclement weather. Normally, the team would plan a landing off the coast of San Diego, California.

Navy divers on several small boats recovered the lunar ship after it splashed down. Using a special cable, they pulled Orion into a well deck of the USS Portland.

The spacecraft is now on a truck returning to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Next, technicians open the hatch and unload cargo and science experiments, including the three dummies, for further study. New NASA drone video shows Artemis spacecraft sticking the landing

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