NASA's Orion Capsule is drawn to the well deck of the U.S.S. Portland after it splashed down following a successful uncrewed Artemis I Moon Mission seen from aboard the U.S.S. Portland in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California, Mexico December 11, 2022. Mario Tama/Pool via REUTERS

Artemis I Update: Orion Secured Inside USS Portland Ahead Of Return To Shore 

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December 11, 2022

Antonia Jaramillo Botero -(NASA)–The Orion spacecraft has been secured in the well deck of the USS Portland. The ship will soon begin its trip back to U.S. Naval Base San Diego, where engineers will remove Orion from the ship in preparation for transport back to Kennedy Space Center in Florida for post-flight analysis.  

Upon Orion’s successful splashdown in the Pacific Ocean west of Baja California at 9:40 PST/12:40 EST Dec. 11, flight controllers in mission control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston spent about two hours performing tests in open water to gather additional data about the spacecraft, including on its thermal properties after enduring the searing heat of re-entry through Earth’s atmosphere. Recovery personnel also spent time collecting detailed imagery of the spacecraft before beginning to pull the capsule into the USS Portland’s well deck.   

AT SEA, PACIFIC OCEAN – DECEMBER 11: NASA’s Orion Capsule is drawn to the well deck of the U.S.S. Portland after it splashed down following a successful uncrewed Artemis I Moon Mission on December 11, 2022 seen from aboard the U.S.S. Portland in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California, Mexico. A 26-day mission took the Orion spacecraft to the moon and back which completed a historic test flight that coincided with the 50th anniversary of the landing of Apollo 17 on the moon, the last time that NASA astronauts walked there. Mario Tama/Pool via REUTERS
NASA’s Orion capsule makes its way towards the U.S.S. Portland (LPD 27) after being successfully secured by a NASA and U.S. Navy team, off the coast of Baja California, Mexico, 11 December 2022. CAROLINE BREHMAN/Pool via REUTERS
Crew members gather after NASA’s Orion Capsule was brought into the well deck of the U.S.S. Portland, after it splashed down following a successful uncrewed Artemis I Moon Mission, seen from aboard the U.S.S. Portland in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California, Mexico December 11, 2022. Mario Tama/Pool via REUTERS

The recovery process involved divers attaching a cable called a winch line and several additional tending lines attached to the crew module. The winch was used to pull Orion into a specially designed cradle inside the ship’s well deck and the other lines were used to control the motion of the spacecraft. The recovery team consists of personnel and assets from the U.S. Department of Defense, including Navy amphibious specialists and Space Force weather specialists, and engineers and technicians from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Johnson Space Center in Houston, and Lockheed Martin Space Operations.  

Orion is expected to arrive to shore Dec. 13 with offload expected on Dec. 15. 

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