Artemis I: NASA's Orion Capsule Breaks Distance Record Set by Apollo 13 in 1970

The previous record was set during the Apollo 13 mission in 1970

NASA’S Orion spacecraft

NASA’s Orion capsule has broken the distance record set by Apollo 13 for a mission with a spacecraft designed to carry humans to deep space and back to Earth.

The capsule, part of NASA's Artemis mission to take humans back to the moon and ultimately Mars, broke the record Saturday morning.

The previous record — 248,655 miles — was set during the Apollo 13 mission in 1970.

NASA launched the Artemis I mission to the moon early Wednesday morning on the East Coast. The first test flight of the Space Launch System carries the Orion capsule, which will orbit the moon and return to Earth.

The Orion capsule will continue even further out, being at a maximum distance of about 270,000 miles from Earth sometime on Monday. As of Sunday night, Orion was 266,000 miles away from Earth.

"Artemis builds on the experience of Apollo. With Artemis, humans will return to the lunar surface, and this time to stay," NASA said in a statement. "NASA will lead the way in collaboration with international and commercial partners to establish the first long-term presence on the Moon. Then, we will use what we learn on and around the Moon to take the next giant leap: sending the first astronauts to Mars."

Orion reached the moon on Nov. 21, whipping around the back side of the moon and passing within 80 miles. It’s the first time a capsule has visited the moon since NASA’s Apollo program 50 years ago, and represented a huge milestone in the $4.1 billion test flight that began Nov. 16.

Orion’s flight path took it over the landing sites of Apollo 11, 12 and 14 — humanity’s first three lunar touchdowns.

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