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Orion Splashdown: Watch Artemis I's final moments in 11 breathtaking images

The historic mission ended with a splash.

Originally Published: 

Orion is back from the Moon.

On December 11, the capsule safely splashed down into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California.

Its dramatic re-entry marks the end of Artemis I.

NASA’s Moon mission was the first in a series of missions aimed at bringing humans back to the lunar surface by 2025.

NASA via YouTube

Careening in from space, Orion skipped like a stone on Earth’s atmosphere to break its fall.

Incredible views from the air and sea captured the final leg of Orion’s voyage.

Here are the last few moments of Artemis I, in 11 pictures:

11. A day before splashdown, our planet appeared as a distant sliver of light. Orion was closer to Earth than the Moon at this point.

NASA via Flickr

10. Homeward bound! Orion snapped this portrait of Earth before beginning its descent on December 11.

9. Orion positioned itself above the planet about an hour and a half before splashdown.

8. Speeding at 25,000 miles per hour, this was Orion’s cabin view as it touched the upper atmosphere — and eventually lost signal.

NASA via YouTube

7. Orion went through several expected periods of signal loss, capturing breathtaking views in between.

NASA via YouTube

6. Once it got close enough to the ground, Orion deployed its three main parachutes, seen here from the capsule’s POV.

NASA via YouTube

5. Here’s the view from a nearby aircraft.

4. Splashdown!

Orion landed in the ocean at 9:40 am PST.

NASA via YouTube

3. Safely at sea, the capsule bobbed in the water while awaiting rescue by a U.S. Navy vessel.

2. The USS Portland and a helicopter headed toward the capsule (lower left) after the splashdown.

NASA via Flickr

1. Safely inside the USS Portland, Orion was towed back to land where it will be analyzed by researchers preparing for Artemis II.

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