July 20, 2024

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Orion is back on Earth after a test flight, and a new spaceship is already leaving: First private lunar mission successfully launched

Orion is back on Earth after a test flight, and a new spaceship is already leaving: First private lunar mission successfully launched


Land on the horizon for a new American spaceship. After a three-week test flight around the moon, Orion will return to Earth on Sunday. The first private rocket to the Moon also departed on Sunday morning. The launch was successful.

gjssource: BELGA

Orion was launched on November 16, after years of preparation. The rover should take people to the moon and back again in a few years. To test all systems, it is now orbiting the Moon without a crew. A little over a week ago I started my return trip. According to NASA, the spacecraft is performing better than expected.

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The bowl consists of two parts. In front is the American part where the crew will sit later. At the back, in the European segment, there is an engine, among others. On Sunday, just before re-entry into the atmosphere, they separate. The European part is burning up in the atmosphere, the American part has to slow down and finally sink gently into the sea hanging on parachutes. This occurs in the Pacific Ocean west of Mexico. The ‘start’ is scheduled for 6.39pm BST. Then a warship would lift it out of the water and bring it ashore.

The first private lunar mission

But that’s not all that’s moving in space on Sunday. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with an unmanned commercial lander was successfully launched at Cape Canaveral, Florida, Sunday morning. This initiative comes from the Japanese company ispace. On board is the company’s Hakuto-R lunar lander. It should land softly on the lunar surface by the end of April, if all goes as planned.

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Ispace wants to be the first commercial company to land on the moon. So far, only the United States, Russia and China have succeeded. Attempts by Israel and India failed.

In the future, ispace wants to extract raw materials and water from the lunar surface. This could help build a manned base on the moon. The Hakuto-R mission is to test the design and technology. To mine the moon, the Japanese are working with space agencies in the United States and Europe.

It is not certain if the probe will actually be the first commercial device to reach the moon. The ship takes a long detour. It will first travel 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, four times the distance from the Moon, and won’t land until the end of April. Next spring, two more commercial probes (Nova-C and Peregrine) will also go to the moon. It is not yet clear which of the three will arrive first.