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NASA's Orion Snaps Spectacular Selfie Before Completing First Moon Flyby

The Artemis I moon mission delivered some glamour shots prior to zipping past the moon.

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Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read
Conical silver and white Orion spacecraft selfie with dark space beyond and NASA in big red letters.
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Conical silver and white Orion spacecraft selfie with dark space beyond and NASA in big red letters.

A camera mounted on one of Orion's solar arrays captured this gorgeous selfie of the spacecraft prior to its moon flyby. 

NASA

NASA's Artemis I mission blasted off in a blaze of glory last week. So how's our plucky Orion spacecraft buddy doing out there in the cold of space? Just fine, thank you. It's busy snapping selfies and buzzing the moon.

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NASA shared a series of Orion selfies on Saturday, showing the human-rated capsule glimmering against the darkness of space. Artemis I is an uncrewed mission designed to test NASA's Space Launch System rocket and the Orion spacecraft before astronauts go for a ride on a future mission. 

Orion is kitted out with a collection of cameras both inside and out. Cameras attached to the ends of its solar arrays are perfect for capturing selfies. 

The selfies were just the beginning of a busy few days for Orion. Next up was a key Monday morning flyby of the moon. The flyby was a success, NASA announced. The spacecraft slimmed by our lunar neighbor, passing just 81 miles (130 kilometers) above the surface while zipping along at a speed of 5,102 mph (8,211 km/h). 

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The flyby was necessary to help position Orion for its particular orbital path around the moon. Another manuever on Friday will finish placing it into an orbit that will take it 40,000 miles (64,000 kilometers) past the moon before it eventually comes back to Earth for a scheduled splashdown on Dec. 11.

After many delays and false starts, Artemis I finally got away from Earth to kick off NASA's long-term effort to get humans back to the moon. The images coming down from Orion have been beautiful -- just look at this evocative black and white photo of Earth and this lovely moon shot.

The most important message from the mission to date is this one: So far, so good.