NASA loses contact for 47 minutes with Artemis 1’s Orion – NASA lost contact with its Orion moonbound capsule unexpectedly on Wednesday morning (Nov. 23), and the reasons are still unknown.
Since its launch toward the moon on NASA’s Artemis 1 mission last Wednesday (Nov. 16,) Orion has been performing well. This Wednesday, Nov. 23, brought a blip. Mission controllers lost communication at 1:09 AM EST (0609 GMT), while reconfiguring a link between Orion and the Deep Space Network (the set of radio dishes NASA uses to communicate with its farflung spacecraft).
NASA officials provided a brief update Wednesday, saying that reconfigurations had been successful several times over the past few days and that the team was investigating the cause of the signal loss.
They added that the team had resolved the problem by reconfiguring the ground side. “Engineers are currently analyzing data from the event in order to determine what happened. The command and data handling officers will be downlinking data onboard Orion during this outage to aid in that assessment.
NASA officials stated that Orion was in good health after the communication interruption, which lasted for 47 minutes.
Orion is preparing for a critical maneuver. It will perform an engine burn Friday (Nov. 25), which will place the capsule in orbit around the Moon. If everything goes according to plan, Orion will remain in this orbit for approximately a week before returning to Earth on Dec. 1.
On Dec. 11, the capsule will be delivered to California with a parachute-aided splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the California coast.
Artemis 1 is Orion’s shakeout cruise and NASA’s Space Launch System, NASA’s most powerful rocket to ever fly. They will fly astronauts on Artemis 2 in 2024, which will send an Orion crewed around the moon.
Artemis 3 will be following a year later. It will land astronauts near the south pole of the moon — where NASA plans to establish a crewed outpost. This is one of the key goals of its Artemis program.