The spacecraft will soon send humans to the Moon, the first people to do so since the final Apollo mission in 1972.
The goal of this maiden test flight without a crew is to make sure the vehicle is secure.
According to Mike Sarafin, mission director for the Artemis 1 mission, “Today we met to discuss the Orion spacecraft performance… It is exceeding performance expectations.”
According to Jim Geffre, the Orion manager at the Johnson Space Center, the spacecraft’s four solar arrays, each measuring approximately 13 feet (four metres) in length, deployed correctly and are producing more power than anticipated.
It is from that control centre in Texas that the spacecraft is being piloted.
Orion is getting ready to launch the first of the mission’s four main thrusts while it is already around 200,000 miles (320,000 km) away from Earth.
In order to take advantage of the Moon’s gravitational pull, this manoeuvre, which will happen early on Monday morning, will put the spacecraft as close as 80 miles (130 kilometres) from the lunar surface.
As this will occur on the far side of the Moon, NASA anticipates losing communication with the spacecraft for around 35 minutes.
Although they will travel in complete darkness, flight director Jeff Radigan said, “We will be passing over some of the Apollo landing sites.” NASA will make video of the flyover available.
Four days later, a second thrust from the engines will place Orion in a distant orbit around the Moon.
The ship will go up to 40,000 miles beyond the Moon, a record for a habitable capsule.
After around 25 days of flight, it will start its return trip to Earth, with a landing in the Pacific Ocean planned for December 11.
If this mission is a success, it will set the stage for Artemis 2, which will fly astronauts around the Moon without a landing, and Artemis 3, which would eventually bring people back to the lunar surface.
Both of those missions are slated to launch in 2024 and 2025.
Additionally, Sarafin stated on Friday that although ten research micro-satellites had been launched when the rocket lifted off, half of them were having communication or technical issues.
However, the results of those trials, which were conducted independently by separate teams, will not affect the primary goal.