Photos: Artemis 1 captures first images of Earth on trip to Moon

Lofted to space via NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), the Orion spacecraft’s trip to the Moon as part of Artemis 1 is off to a fantastic start.
By | Published: November 17, 2022 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
NASA tweeted a brief video, a screenshot of which is seen here, captured by Orion featuring the exterior of the spacecraft and Earth in the background.

Nearly 10 hours after launching atop the world’s most powerful rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), NASA’s Orion spacecraft snapped a selfie with Earth’s partially illuminated disk visible in the background.

“This view of Earth captured from a human-rated spacecraft not seen since 1972 during the final Apollo mission some 50 years ago,” said Sandra Jones of NASA during a live broadcast Wednesday, Nov. 16. “The views of our blue marble in the blackness of space now capturing the imagination of a new generation — the Artemis generation.”

Just as with the Apollo missions, an important aspect of the Artemis missions will be obtaining breathtaking video and imagery for use in both scientific and public outreach efforts.

To do this, the Artemis 1 mission features 24 cameras, eight mounted to the SLS and 16 on Orion. These cameras are largely meant to help engineers document mission-critical events, such as liftoff, solar array deployment, and landing, for further analysis. Some of these cameras are strategically placed to also look beyond the spacecraft itself.

“Each of Orion’s four solar array wings has a commercial off-the-shelf camera mounted at the tip that has been highly modified for use in space, providing a view of the spacecraft exterior,” said David Melendrez, imagery integration lead for the Orion Program, in a statement. These four cameras are not only perfect for inspecting Orion, but also for capturing views of the Moon or Earth photobombing images of the spacecraft itself.

NASA’s crew-rated Orion spacecraft features 16 cameras mounted in strategically placed locations, as seen in this illustration.

Three wireless cameras are also mounted inside Orion, aligned to capture the perspectives of future Artemis astronauts. One camera is pointed out the front pilot window of the craft, another peers over the commander’s shoulder, and the third provides a view of parachute deployment (and the launch abort system) through the top hatch window.

Artemis 1 is just getting started. And over the next few weeks, as Orion ventures to lunar orbit and back, the images and video it captures along the way will give us just a glimpse at what the crewed Artemis 2 mission slated for 2024 might be like. In the meantime, here are a few of the best images of the Artemis 1 mission so far.

Prior to launch, crews (in orange) checked connections and valves to ensure they were tight. The Artemis 1 flight is meant to test the technology and processes needed to advance human space exploration to the Moon and beyond.
NASA/Joel Kowsky
The most powerful rocket in the world, the Space Launch System (SLS), lifts off from Launch Complex 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 1:47 A.M. EST on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. The SLS lofted the human-rated crew capsule, Orion, which is carrying out a 25.5-day flight that will test the technology needed to soon return humans to the Moon.
NASA/Bill Ingalls

Featuring a massive fiery exhaust plume reminiscent of space shuttle launches — due to the use of twin solid-propellant boosters — the overnight launch of the Space Launch System (SLS) for Artemis 1 dazzled thousands of spaceflight enthusiasts who witnessed it live.

NASA/Joel Kowsky

In this 3-minute exposure, the fiery path of the Space Launch System (SLS), carrying the Orion spacecraft, arcs through the sky after liftoff.

NASA/Keegan Barber

Earth can be seen in the background in this screenshot of a video captured by specially modified off-the-shelf cameras mounted to the Orion capsule. At this point, Orion was still attached to the second stage of the Space Launch System (SLS).

One of three cameras mounted inside the Orion capsule captured this view of the craft’s lone passenger, Commander Moonikin Campos. This mannequin is testing the orange flight suit that Artemis astronauts will wear.
Roughly nine hours after liftoff, a camera mounted to one of Orion’s four solar panels (which NASA calls “solar array wings,” or SAWs) captured this view of the crew-rated capsule with Earth’s partially illuminated disk in the background.