Artemis I: NASA has no idea why it lost contact with the Orion capsule

As Orion continues to travel to enter lunar orbit, NASA has run into a problem. Contact with the Artemis I capsule was lost for nearly 50 minutes. NASA doesn’t know why.

Communication between Orion and Earth was interrupted for a few moments. It was around 7 a.m. (Metropolitan France time) on November 23, 2022, when the NASA teams responsible for flight control of the spacecraft lost contact with it. It wasn’t expected at all.

The capsule is the first mission of the Artemis program, an ambitious project that aims to one day return humans to the Moon. This loss of connection was therefore concerning, because everything has to go perfectly with this unmanned flight if NASA is ever to attempt manned flights. Fortunately, contact with Orion was only broken for 47 minutes. ” The team fixed the issue and Orion remains in a stable configuration », let me know NASA. The continuation of the capsule’s mission is not in question.

Orion approaching the Moon. // Source: Flickr/Nasa Johnson

It was at NASA’s mission control center at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (in Houston) that the problem was discovered: data could no longer be received or sent to Orion. It happened when NASA reconfigured the connection between the capsule and the Deep Space Network, the network of ground stations through which the agency communicates with its space probes. ” The team fixed the issue with a landside reconfiguration “, quotes the agency. However, the origin of this signal loss remains unclear. An analysis is underway to understand the source.

The Orion capsule continues on its way to lunar orbit

The concern arose when Orion was in the seventh day of the Artemis I mission. The ship is currently outside the lunar sphere of influence (the gravitational pull exerted by the Moon on other bodies). This journey should allow Orion to enter a very distant and retrograde orbit of the Moon, i.e. in the opposite direction to the rotation of the Moon around the Earth.

The capsule should reach its maximum distance from the Moon on November 25, just before performing a new maneuver to position itself in its orbit. You can see this Artemis I mission path in real time thanks to a NASA site.

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