NASA succeeds in putting the Orion space capsule into lunar orbit, eclipsing Apollo 13’s distance

HOUSTON (CBS SF) — NASA engineers can exhale now.

Mission controllers with the Artemis program just wrapped up a critical maneuver to put the Orion space capsule into a record-breaking lunar orbit. It will now eclipse Apollo 13 to become the most distant human-capable craft ever launched from Earth.

“The goal here is to test techniques and procedures – and the spacecraft – that NASA wants to use to resume human exploration of the moon,” says CBS News Space Consultant Bill Harwood. “They want to operate it in deep space, so they can really put it through the wringer.”

Except, in this case, there are no humans aboard. That will come later.

“The main key here is to have a successful mission so that we can start looking forward to being able to fly astronauts out to the moon,” says NASA’s Jacob Bleacher.

As for when that might happen? NASA is optimistic it will be sooner than you might think.

“Late 2025 is what we’re aiming for Artemis-3 to land our astronauts on the moon,” says Bleacher, who added that he sees that target date as, “likely.”

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