Sixteen days into its test flight on the Artemis I mission, the Orion spacecraft is on a trajectory back to Earth.
On Thursday, Dec. 1, at 4:53 p.m. EST, Orion conducted an engine burn to propel the spacecraft out of its distant lunar orbit, where it has been since Nov. 25.
Orion is on track to complete its 25.5-day mission on Sunday, Dec. 11, when it will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere and splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California.
Orion’s propulsion is provided by the European Service Module, a key component of Europe’s contributions to NASA’s Artemis program.
This module serves as Orion’s powerhouse, supplying the spacecraft with electricity, thermal control, and air and water for future crews, in addition to propulsive abilities that allow the spacecraft to adjust its trajectory via 33 engines of various types.