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NASA’s Orion spacecraft completes closest flyby of Moon

NASA's Space Launch System rocket carrying the Orion spacecraft lifts off on the Artemis I flight test at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the United States, Nov 16, 2022. (KEEGAN BARBER / NASA / HANDOUT VIA XINHUA)

LOS ANGELES – NASA's Orion spacecraft completed its closest flyby of the Moon Monday morning.

Before the flyby, the mission team conducted an outbound powered flyby burn at 7:44 am US Eastern Standard Time, increasing speed of the spacecraft at a rate of more than 928 kilometers per hour, according to NASA.

At the time of the flyby, Orion was 130 kilometers above the lunar surface, traveling at 8,163 kph. It was more than 368,000 kilometers from Earth during the flyby

At the time of the flyby, Orion was 130 kilometers above the lunar surface, traveling at 8,163 kph. It was more than 368,000 kilometers from Earth during the flyby.

The outbound powered flyby burn is the first of two maneuvers required to enter the distant retrograde orbit around the Moon, according to NASA.

Carrying an uncrewed Orion, NASA's Space Launch System lifted off for its flight test debut last Wednesday from Launch Pad 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The spacecraft is scheduled to return to Earth on Dec 11 and splash down off the coast of San Diego, California.

READ MORE: NASA's Artemis mission heads to moon on debut test flight

The Artemis I flight test will pave the way for a crewed flight test and future human lunar exploration as part of NASA's Artemis lunar program.