NASA's Artemis 1 Orion spacecraft has set a new flight record for NASA, flying farther than any spacecraft designed to carry human astronauts ever before.
As of this morning eastern time, Orion was about 249,666 miles (from 401,798 kilometres) from Earth. The past record belongs to Apollo 13 in 1970, which was 248,655 miles (400,171 kilometers) from Earth.
It just so happened that with that really large orbit, high altitude above the moon, we were able to pass the Apollo 13 record. But what was more important though, was pushing the boundaries of exploration and sending spacecraft farther than we had ever done before,
said Jim Geffre, Orion spacecraft integration manager.
Apollo 13 reached that distance, resulting in an extraordinary need to use the moon's gravity to get the spacecraft back to Earth as quickly and safely as possible.
There is no crew on the Orion spacecraft, with dummies sitting in it with instruments to measure radiation exposure and the stresses experienced by a crew member during the flight to and from the moon. One of the dummies has been was named "Commander Moonikin Campos" after the late Arturo Campos, who wrote the emergency procedures during the Apollo 13 mission that allowed the Odyssey to get enough power to crash safely to the surface.
The flight profile of Artemis 1 was not planned to break the Apollo 13 record. It only succeeded because NASA sent the Orion capsule into a retrograde lunar orbit.
NASA expects Orion capsule Artemis 1 to reach a maximum distance of 268,553 miles (432,194km) from Earth on Monday. It will then continue halfway around the moon before launching the orbital manoeuvring system engine to leave the distant retrograde orbit. This will prepare for a second close flyby of the lunar surface on 5 December, followed by a return to Earth on 11 December.