Follow Orion's trip to the moon with NASA Artemis 1 tracking website

orion spacecraft in foreground with solar panel pointing towards the earth in behind
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)

Ride along with NASA's latest moon mission on a tracking website just launched by the agency.

Artemis 1, the first flight of the Artemis program, launched early in Wednesday morning (Nov. 16). A Space Launch System rocket, on its first-ever mission, successfully sent an uncrewed Orion spacecraft toward the moon.

Though the launch is over, you can keep following along with the nearly month-long mission in real time on this NASA website. And, if you want, you can download the trajectory data to create your own applications, the agency has said.

The base website shows an animation of Orion in space along with the mission elapsed time, the capsule's velocity, and its distance from Earth and from the moon. You can change the view of the Orion spacecraft by pivoting the camera or moving between four solar array wing cameras, or switch between views of the mission's track so far. You can also gaze at the spacecraft up close.

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"The ephemeris data can be used to track Orion with your own spaceflight software application or telescope. It can also be used to create a physics model, animation, visualization, tracking application or other conceivable projects," NASA writer Erika Peters said in a blog post on Tumblr.

Available state vectors, or data describing the location and movements of Orion in space, could also be used for tracking apps and data visualizations, NASA said in a separate post about the project.

The data visible online is the same as what is generated by a group within NASA's mission control at Johnson Space Center in Houston. The group, called flight dynamics operations (FDO), is responsible for "keeping track of where the spacecraft is, and where it is going to be," Peters said.

FDO is gaining information from following Orion on the Deep Space Network, which is a trio of huge satellite dishes on Earth that allow communication with NASA's missions across the solar system. Between the tracking information received and the models FDO generates, the team aims to provide accuracy on Orion's path to feed to Artemis flight controllers.

"An accurate trajectory is essential for achieving mission objectives, maintaining communications links, lighting, adjusting the trajectory, and more," Peters added. 

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

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, 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 a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: