WATCH: Artemis 1’s Orion spacecraft splashes down after moon flyby

Artemis 1’s Orion spacecraft is scheduled to complete its journey back to Earth on Sunday, Dec. 11. The spacecraft is set to splash down in the Pacific Ocean near Guadalupe Island at 12:40 p.m., according to NASA, where it will then be retrieved by researchers.

Watch the splashdown in the player above.

Sunday marks day 25 of the Artemis 1 mission, which launched on Nov. 16. During that time, Orion slingshotted around the moon and spent about a week in lunar orbit before starting its return trip on Dec. 1. As it enters Earth’s atmosphere, the capsule’s heat shield will be put to a serious test.


A visual rendering of Orion’s re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, where temperatures outside the heat shield reach around 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Image shared by NASA

The friction of that entry will slash its speed from 25,000 miles per hour to 300 miles per hour in minutes, according to NASA. A key goal of the mission is to ensure that the heat shield is capable of safely returning astronauts home during future crewed missions.

READ MORE: How NASA’s Artemis 1 launch will mark a new era in space exploration

Future Artemis missions intend to send the first person of color and the first woman to the moon, potentially as soon as 2025. If successful, those missions will mark the first time humans have set foot on moon since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.