The upcoming launch at Cape Canaveral is an unmanned test flight, and the smoking gun to another ambitious space exploration mission, NASA explains. Seeing the Orion’s crew module safely back into the atmosphere and deploying 10 investigative satellites are all part of the mission.
The ultimate goal, though? Deep space exploration, NASA says. And with the Orion spacecraft expected to travel deeper into space than any manned vessel ever has — 280,000 miles from earth, thousands of miles beyond the Moon (via NASA) — the agency shuffles an inch closer. Orion’s four-to-six-week voyage is the longest a crew-intended vessel has ever stayed in space without touching down at a space station.
Orion is expected to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere at 25,000 miles per hour and reach temperatures of approximately 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit — that’s a faster and hotter reentry than has ever been attempted before, per NASA.
Pending the success of Artemis I, Artemis II will launch from Kennedy in 2023 — this time with humans aboard the Orion. This historic crew will venture further into space than ever seen by humankind.