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Space capsule comes very close to the moon

About a week after its launch, the Orion space capsule came very close to the moon for the first time. On the way to its orbit around the Earth's satellite, it circumnavigated the back of the moon and came within 130 kilometers of it, the US space agency NASA said. With the orbit, it should gather momentum to enter its lunar orbit.

30 minutes of radio silence

While the capsule was behind the moon, there was no radio contact with the control center in Houston. For about 30 minutes, the engineers there didn't know whether a crucial engine had ignited as planned. "This is one of those days that has been thought about and talked about for a long, long time," Flight Director Zeb Scoville said while waiting.

When the capsule resurfaced, the onboard cameras sent a photo of Earth – a blue dot surrounded by darkness. At that point, the capsule accelerated to more than 8,000 kilometers per hour, according to NASA. "Our faint blue dot and its eight billion human inhabitants are now coming into view," said Sandra Jones, spokeswoman for the control center.

Planned water landing in the Pacific

"Orion" should be around the moon for about three weeks. It is "manned" with three test dummies that are supposed to collect data for the next step – to bring people back to the moon. Orion is scheduled to land in the Pacific in December.

Your flight is part of the "Artemis" moon mission, which has not been auspicious so far: after delays and exploding costs in development and construction, the test launch had to be postponed several times.

With the program, named after the Greek goddess of the moon, US astronauts are expected to land on the moon again in the coming years, including for the first time a woman and a non-white person.

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