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NASA's Orion Spacecraft to splash down off the coast of Baja California

The spacecraft is scheduled to splash down at approximately 9:40 a.m. on Sunday to complete the Artemis I lunar mission. 
orion-spacecraft
On Dec. 5, 2022, Orion completed the return powered flyby burn, committing the spacecraft to a Dec. 11 splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

NASA’s Artemis I mission, the Orion spacecraft will officially splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California near Guadalupe Island. 

The original landing destination was 300 nautical miles directly off San Diego, but NASA was concerned about an approaching storm system. The spacecraft is scheduled to splash down at approximately 9:40 a.m. on Sunday to complete the Artemis I lunar mission. 

“At present, we are on track to have a fully successful mission with some bonus objectives that we’ve achieved along the way,” said Mike Sarafin, Artemis I mission manager. “On entry day, we will realize our priority one objective, which is to demonstrate the vehicle at lunar re-entry conditions, as well as our priority three objectives, which is to retrieve the spacecraft.”

According to the Landing and recovery director at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Melissa Jones, the San Diego-based amphibious transport dock USS Portland will arrive at the new landing site 24 hours ahead of the spacecraft. 

"We would appreciate it if small boats and pleasurecraft would stay out of the area. There are hazards on the Orion capsule and it's not a safe place for people to be," Jones said. 

The uncrewed Orion spacecraft was blasted off on Nov. 16 on NASA’s Space Launch System. It is designed to carry four astronauts on missions of up to 21 days to the moon. The Artemis I mission is a test of the entire system.

​​NASA hopes to send astronauts around the moon in early 2024. It will be followed by a moon landing in the middle of the decade.

NASA TV coverage of Artemis I’s return to Earth begins at 8 a.m. PST. It will be available on the agency’s website, and the NASA app.