After launching last Wednesday, the Orion spacecraft has reached the Moon, with Snoopy as its zero-G indicator on board. This test flight around the Moon and back will prove the systems of the Orion spacecraft and the SLS rocket, allowing humans to step aboard the rocket the next time it launches ahead of our return to the Moon.
The Orion spacecraft flew within a hundred miles of the Moon’s surface. It will continue its journey back to Earth, where the Orion spacecraft must prove that it can withstand entering Earth’s atmosphere from Lunar orbit. While the spacecraft has been tested before, including with the flight of EFT-1, the Delta IV Heavy rocket that launched it then would have been unable to send the spacecraft around the Moon. That flight was only about four and a half hours, and the spacecraft flew a maximum of 3,600 miles from Earth.
Currently, the Orion spacecraft for Artemis 1 is gaining distance between itself at the Moon, nearing the 5,000 mile mark. It’s traveling at over 4,000mph and over 200,000 miles away from Earth.
During its closest point to the Moon, the spacecraft passed behind the Moon from the perspective of Earth. This, as expected, led to a communications blackout with the spacecraft.
At 5 p.m. today NASA will be hosting an update on the Artemis 1 mission on NASA TV.
Snoopy flies to the Moon
While this mission was uncrewed, that wasn’t to say there was nobody on aboard the spacecraft. Everyone’s favorite cartoon beagle joined for the ride. Snoopy functioned as a zero-g indicator. While all the spacecraft’s sensors provide the real data scientists need, often times space missions will include a fun, relatable plush toy inside the capsule as a clear visual cue to those watching a home that, yes, the spacecraft is experience microgravity.
During DM-2 the sequined dinosaur tremor filled that roll, and Baby Yoda/Grogu filled the roll on Crew-1.
Snoopy is joined by Moonikin Campos, who is securely strapped in a seat, along with mannikin torsos Helga and Zohar.
You can continue to track Artemis 1’s journey around the Moon using the webpage NASA setup.