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Orion splashes down after lunar voyage


Washington: Nasa’s Orion space capsule splashed down safely in the Pacific on Sunday, completing the Artemis 1 mission — a more than 25-day journey around the Moon with an eye to returning humans there in just a few years.

After racing through the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of 25,000 miles (40,000 kilometres) per hour, the uncrewed capsule floated down to the sea with the help of three large orange and white parachutes, as seen on Nasa TV.

“I don’t think any one of us could have imagined the mission this successful,” said Artemis Mission Manager Mike Sarafin in a press conference.

“We now have a foundational deep space transportation system.” During the trip around Earth’s orbiting satellite and back, Orion logged well over a million miles and went farther from Earth than any previous habitable spacecraft.

“For years, thousands of individuals have poured themselves into this mission, which is inspiring the world to work together to reach untouched cosmic shores,” said Nasa Administrator Bill Nelson.

“Today is a huge win for Nasa, the United States, our international partners, and all of humanity,” he added.

After touchdown, helicopters flew over the floating spacecraft, which showed no evidence of damage. Orion was recovered by a prepositioned US Navy ship off the coast of Mexico’s Baja California after some initial tests were run.

As it reentered the Earth’s atmosphere, the gumdrop-shaped capsule had to withstand a temperature of 2,800 degrees Centigrade (5,000 Fahrenheit) — about half that of the surface of the Sun.

The main goal of this mission was to test Orion’s heat shield — for the day when it carries astronauts. — afp

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