Behold! This is the last view of Earth from space from NASA's Artemis 1 Orion (video)

To paraphrase a famous space movie, Earth was getting awfully big in the window of NASA's last moon mission as it streaked towards our planet.

The Orion spacecraft ferried home epic live video of our home planet during the last hours of Artemis 1 during steering for splashdown today (Dec. 11).

The uncrewed mission was a shakedown cruise to prove the Artemis program is ready for humans, and Artemis 1 indeed clicked through all major milestones: a launch of the untested Space Launch System, orbiting the moon and surviving a high-speed re-entry to splash down in the Pacific Ocean near a recovery ship.

In photos: 10 greatest images from NASA's Artemis 1 mission

The Artemis 1 Orion spacecraft catches a last glimpse of Earth as a full disc before splashdown on Dec. 1, 2022. (Image credit: NASA Television)

Orion is a human-rated spacecraft that flew further into space than previous record-holder Apollo 13, which hosted three astronauts that looped around the moon instead of landing due to a spacecraft emergency. (The movie quoted in this story's first sentence was the eponymous "Apollo 13" from 1995 that starred Tom Hanks as commander Jim Lovell.)

Splashdown for Artemis 1 came during the anniversary of another Apollo program milestone: the landing date of Apollo 17, which was the last human mission to touch down on the moon so far on Dec. 11, 1972. NASA hopes to bring people to the surface again within three years.

Artemis 2 will come first, which will bring a crew around the moon to test the life support systems, as Artemis 1 did not host any on board the spacecraft. Providing that mission flies when scheduled in 2024, Artemis 3 is expected to follow and put astronauts back on the moon in 2025 or 2026.

NASA is also building out a supportive lunar space station called Gateway, which is not on the critical path to landing but will still provide a perch for human crews for future missions of Artemis. The agency plans to bring numerous missions to the surface, both crewed and uncrewed, in the 2020s and beyond.

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).

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

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