NASA's uncrewed Orion spacecraft has surpassed the record set in 1970 by the crew on Apollo 13's aborted mission to land on the Moon. NASA's uncrewed Orion spacecraft reached the farthest distance from Earth during the Artemis I mission -- 268,563 miles (432,210) from our home planet.
The earlier record was set during the Apollo 13 mission at 248,655 miles (400,171 kms) from Earth. "The spacecraft also captured imagery of Earth and the Moon together throughout the day, including of the Moon appearing to eclipse Earth," NASA said in a statement late on Monday.
The US space agency said that the spacecraft remains in healthy condition as it continues its journey in distant retrograde orbit, an approximately six-day leg of its larger mission thousands of miles beyond the Moon.
"Because of the unbelievable can-do spirit, Artemis I has had extraordinary success and has completed a series of history making events," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. "It's incredible just how smoothly this mission has gone, but this is a test.
That's what we do - we test it and we stress it," Nelson added. As last reported, Orion was 268,457 miles away from the Earth and 43,138 miles from the Moon, cruising at 1,679 miles per hour. The spacecraft will soon harness the Moon's gravitational force once again, combined with a precisely timed lunar flyby burn to slingshot Orion onto its return course to Earth ahead of a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean on December 11.
Orion has been specifically designed for missions to carry humans farther into space than ever before. On Artemis I, engineers are testing several aspects of the Orion spacecraft needed for deep space missions with crew.
The Artemis II mission will test the systems required for astronauts to live and breathe in deep space.