Goodnight Moon

7 stunning images from Artemis I's final trip around the Moon

Now back to Earth!

ESA

Orion is on its way home.

Just 19 days after liftoff, the Artemis I spacecraft is currently cruising back to Earth.

On December 5, the spacecraft slingshotted around the Moon one final time.

Orion completed a maneuver known as a return powered flyby, designed to break itself free from the Moon’s gravity.

NASA

Boontipa Arrepitak / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images

In the process, we got more up-close views of the lunar surface, as well as a jaw-dropping snapshot of Earth at a distance.

Here’s Artemis I’s final Moon maneuver, in 7 images:

Boontipa Arrepitak / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images

7. At 846 miles from the lunar surface, Orion and the Moon could be seen together before the return powered flyby began.

NASA

6. Orion shifts into position for its maneuver.

NASA

5. Here’s the side of the capsule, as seen by one of its solar array wing cameras.

NASA

4. For a brief moment, Orion fired its thrusters to reach the proper altitude.

NASA

3. Dark shadows cover the capsule in one of the final frames before it slipped behind the Moon for about 30 minutes.

NASA

2. Once Orion emerged, it sent back this view of Earth, pictured as a mere sliver of white light in the distance.

NASA

1. Goodbye Moon! The lunar surface slips from view as Orion makes its way home. The capsule is set to splash down off the California coast on Dec. 11.

NASA