Splashing down back onto earth. NASA's Artemis 1 moonship successfully landed in the Pacific Ocean, ending a 25-day test flight to the moon and back.
Descending under three huge parachutes, the unpiloted 9-ton Orion capsule gently hit the water off Baja California, 19 minutes after encountering the first traces of the discernible atmosphere.
"I don't think any one of us could have imagined a mission this successful. But we had a very successful flight test," says Mike Sarafin the NASA Artemis 1 mission manager. "We now have a foundational deep-space transportation system. And while we haven't looked at all the data that we've acquired, we will do that over the coming days and weeks and fully understand and appreciate the margins that are there."
In an appropriate, if unplanned coincidence, the splashdown came 50 years to the day after the final Apollo 17 moon landing in 1972. 10 hours later, SpaceX launched a Japanese moon lander, the first sent up in a purely commercial venture, from Cape Canaveral.
The Artemis space project hopes to allow the first female and the first person of colour on the moon.
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