NASA Shares What You’ll See & Hear In Its Moon Ship At 24,500 Miles Per Hour

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A year after its Artemis 1 mission flew and returned from the Moon, NASA has shared new footage of how it feels to sit inside the Orion spacecraft while it returns to Earth. NASA’s Artemis program will use Orion to transport astronauts from Earth to a near-moon orbit and then return them to the planet once the mission ends. It travels at a whopping 25,000 miles per hour and can touch temperatures as hot as 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit during the return journey. This experience – auditory and visual – has been captured by cameras on the spacecraft.

Loud Thumps Reverberate Inside Orion Spacecraft As It Accelerates Through Earth’s Atmosphere

With less than a year remaining before the planned liftoff of Artemis 2, NASA’s crew for the mission has already started to prepare for their historic journey. The Artemis program is planned in staggered stages, with each mission increasing the milestones that NASA has to achieve. For instance, while Artemis 1 saw an uncrewed Orion fly around the Moon before returning to Earth, Artemis 2 will see the crew fly around the Moon in a different orbit and then splash down on Earth.

Just like NASA did with SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, it also tested the Orion spacecraft for carrying crew after the maiden Artemis 1 flight. Now, the crew is preparing for its journey around the Moon, and astronauts Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, Christina Koch and Jeremy Hansen spent December rehearsing for a post-splashdown emergency escape.

Astronauts also train inside simulators for spaceflight, just like pilots. SpaceX’s simulators are quite famous for accurately reproducing the sound and feel of a Crew Dragon during its journey to and from space. NASA has been busy recording what goes on inside Orion during its return to Earth as well, and the space agency shared a short video clip of the recording on X.

The Orion is designed to withstand the extreme speed and forces a spacecraft must endure when returning from the Moon. These are typically higher and greater than what the Crew and Cargo Dragons that SpaceX flies to the International Space Station (ISS) experience, with the Orion also utilizing an innovative ‘skip’ maneuver to ride the atmosphere and reduce its speed.

This skip maneuver sees Orion dip into the Earth’s atmosphere before increasing the altitude again. This allows the spaceship to improve its landing precision, improve the performance of the heat shield and reduce the g-force load that astronauts must endure while entering the Earth.

A NASA graphic showing the distance added through the skip maenuver. Image: NASA

NASA’s longer video clip of the 25-minute return duration of Orion’s journey shows the spacecraft slowly orienting itself for a proper landing. As it nears the ground, the capsule is engulfed in plasma and the sound of air flowing past it can be heard in the video. These sounds are accompanied by thumps throughout the return mission, and as opposed to your typical plane ride, the Orion also sharply turns its orientation multiple times during the descent.

Loud booms before the drogue parachutes deploy are also present in the video clip, and they are repeated when the main parachutes open. After the parachutes open, the vehicle becomes relatively ‘calmer’ and sways through the air before splashing into the Ocean as the sound thumps increase in frequency.

As part of its preparation for the Artemis 2 mission, NASA has joined together the service and crew sections of the spacecraft that will fly this mission. It is also gearing up for the first robotic lunar lander to fly to the Moon under the Artemis program. The lander, Astrobtic’s Peregrine, is slated to take off on board the United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Vulcan rocket in January.

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