On Thursday, November 23, NASA‘s Mission Control Center in Houston unexpectedly lost contact with the Artemis I Orion spacecraft for 47 minutes, beginning at 12:09 a.m., while reconfiguring the communication link between the spacecraft and the agency’s Deep Space Network (DSN) – an international array of giant radio antennas that supports interplanetary spacecraft missions.
The issue has now been resolved, and the spacecraft remains in a healthy configuration while engineers analyze data to determine the cause, the agency said on Thursday.
Orion is en route to the Moon as the first mission of the Artemis program. The uncrewed spaceship launched Wednesday, November 16, 2022, from Launch Complex 39B at NASA‘s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The spacecraft is now gearing up to enter a distant retrograde orbit (DRO) around the Moon on Friday, November 25. According to the agency, the orbit is retrograde because the spacecraft will travel around the Moon opposite the direction the latter travels around Earth.
DRO provides a highly stable orbit where little fuel is required to stay for an extended trip in deep space to put the spacecraft’s systems to the test in an environment far from Earth.
.NASA_Orion?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@NASA_Orion continues to travel away from the Moon as it prepares to enter a distant retrograde orbit.Orion will reach its farthest distance from the Moon on Nov. 25, just before performing the next major burn to enter the orbit. https://t.co/tAZy1OHv2X pic.twitter.com/bf3JGIXaA2
On Tuesday, Nov. 22, Orion exited the gravitational sphere of influence of the Moon. The spacecraft will reach its farthest distance from the Moon on Friday, just before performing the next major burn to enter the orbit. The DRO insertion burn is the second in a pair of maneuvers needed to propel it into the highly stable orbit that requires minimal fuel consumption while travelling around the Moon.