During the night of Wednesday, November 22, NASA’s Mission Control Center (MCC) unexpectedly lost contact with Orion, an uncrewed space capsule. The communication problem lasted for 47 minutes, according to NASA officials.
The problem did not affect the health of the Orion capsule. However, NASA officials are investigating the cause of the communication disconnect. This is not the first time NASA has lost contact with a spacecraft, but it is rare.
Orion will spend about a week in orbit around the moon before heading back to Earth on December 1. The spacecraft is currently traveling about 40,000 miles beyond the moon.
On November 26, Orion will pass the Apollo 13 record for the farthest human-rated spacecraft. Orion will also travel farther away from the moon than any other spacecraft in history. The spacecraft will enter a high-altitude retrograde orbit thousands of miles from the moon. It will then travel backwards through space until it reaches Earth, about 57,287 miles away.
NASA is investigating what caused the 47-minute outage. Mission controllers have reconfigured their communication link with Deep Space Network, the array of antennas around the world that sends data to space missions. The NASA Mission Control Center (MCC) is located at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
NASA’s Artemis I mission, which is carrying an uncrewed Orion space capsule around the moon, launched on November 16. The mission is part of a program to explore technologies that will one day carry humans further from Earth than they have ever been.