Artemis 1's Orion capsule sends Earth 1st image of home on the way to the moon

Artemis 1 has sent home its first stunning image from what will be a 25-day mission through deep space.

The mission launched atop a Space Launch System (SLS) megarocket at 1:47 a.m. EST (0647 GMT) today (Nov. 16) to conduct an uncrewed test flight around the moon. The new "selfie" image of the Orion spacecraft's hardware and Earth's partially illuminated disk come from more than nine hours into the Artemis 1 flight. At the time, the capsule was more than 57,000 miles (92,000 kilometers) from Earth, about one-fifth of the distance to the moon, and traveling at nearly 5,500 mph (8,800 kph).

"This view of Earth captured from a human-rated spacecraft not seen since 1972 during the final Apollo mission some 50 years ago," NASA spokesperson Sandra Jones said during the live broadcast sharing views from the capsule today. "The views of our blue marble in the blackness of space now capturing the imagination of a new generation — the Artemis generation."

Related: Artemis 1 launch photos: Amazing views of NASA's moon rocket debut (gallery)
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A view inside the Artemis 1 Orion capsule nearly 10 hours after launch on Nov. 16, 2022. (Image credit: NASA TV)

In addition to the "selfie" image, NASA also released a view from inside the capsule, showing "passenger" Commander Moonikin Campos, which is testing the orange suit that astronauts will wear aboard the vehicle on its next flight.

Also visible in the internal view is the Callisto experiment, a partnership with Amazon to test Alexa technology in space. One of the Orion's windows is visible toward the right side of the view.

Two other cameras are located inside the spacecraft, according to a NASA statement (opens in new tab): one looks out the front window of the capsule and the other looks out the top hatch window, where it watched the capsule discard its launch abort system earlier in the day and will see the capsule's parachute deploy during landing.

A view of Earth as seen from the Artemis 1 Orion capsule more than 9 hours into flight on Nov. 16, 2022. (Image credit: NASA TV)

The "selfie" views show the Orion capsule to the left of the image, including its orbital maneuvering system, the large engine powering its flight around the moon. Also visible in the image is one solar panel and part of a second one; all told, the vehicle carries four solar panels arranged in a cross-like shape.

The image, in fact, comes from one of those panels, which NASA calls "solar array wings," or SAWs.

"Each of Orion's four solar array wings has a commercial off-the-shelf camera mounted at the tip that has been highly modified for use in space, providing a view of the spacecraft exterior," David Melendrez, imagery integration lead for the Orion Program at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, said in the statement.

The Artemis 1 mission has notched all of its key milestones for launch day. It will spend the next five days trekking toward the moon. The capsule will make its closest approach to our satellite on Monday (Nov. 21), then spend several days settling into lunar orbit before reversing its course. The 25-day mission will conclude on Dec. 11.

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Meghan Bartels
Senior Writer

Meghan is a senior writer at Space.com and has more than five years' experience as a science journalist based in New York City. She joined Space.com in July 2018, with previous writing published in outlets including Newsweek and Audubon. Meghan earned an MA in science journalism from New York University and a BA in classics from Georgetown University, and in her free time she enjoys reading and visiting museums. Follow her on Twitter at @meghanbartels.