Artemis 1 Orion spacecraft captures selfie as Earth sets behind moon (video)

The Artemis 1 mission's Orion spacecraft keeps taking selfies with a lunar flavor.

Incredible footage from Orion on Wednesday (Nov. 23) shows Earth setting behind the moon in the background, just moments before a spacecraft camera tilts for a glorious Hollywood-style selfie.

The photobomb moment is just one of many coming from Artemis 1, the first flight of NASA's Artemis program, which launched on Nov. 16. The footage is useful not only for public relations but also to ensure the spacecraft is running well during its lunar voyage, NASA officials have said.

Later in the video, there's an even better view of the side of Orion with the crescent moon behind it, which was filmed on Tuesday (Nov. 22). The spacecraft aims to be the farthest human-rated vessel yet in space, exceeding the mark set by the crewed NASA Apollo 13 dual docked spacecraft as they looped around the moon in 1970 on their near-disastrous mission.

In photos: Amazing views of NASA's Artemis 1 moon rocket debut 

On Friday (Nov. 25), Orion reached a distant retrograde orbit (DRO) around the moon, which will take it roughly 40,000 miles (64,000 kilometers) beyond the lunar surface at its most distant point. (Apollo 13's mark was 248,655 miles or 400,171 km, and came by accident, as the crew had to fly around the moon instead of landing due to a deep-space emergency.)

Orion will spend slightly less than a week in the DRO before departing with an engine burn on Dec. 1. The journey home will eventually see Orion splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the California coast on Dec. 11, if it sticks to the flight plan.

The 25-day Artemis 1 shakedown cruise is crucial, NASA has said, to make sure all systems on Orion and the gigantic Space Launch System rocket that sent it to space are ready for human crews. The agency aims to launch the Artemis 2 crewed mission around the moon as soon as 2024, and set people down near the lunar south pole lunar with Artemis 3 in 2025 or 2026. Future missions of Artemis will explore the south pole in detail, as it is believed to be rich in resources such as water ice.

Elizabeth Howell is the co-author of "Why Am I Taller (opens in new tab)?" (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), a book about space medicine. Follow her on Twitter @howellspace (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or Facebook (opens in new tab).

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) for 10 years before that, since 2012. Elizabeth's reporting includes an exclusive with Office of the Vice-President of the United States, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and (soon) a Bachelor of History from Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace