NASA's Artemis I just accidentally broke the space-distance record that was accidentally set by Apollo 13 in 1970
· Nov 26, 2022 ·

Space stuff is intense. The astronomers and mathematicians who calculate rocket missions and lunar landings have to be 100% precise about everything, or else the ships will explode and/or the astronauts will be lost.

So it's nice to see that even these guys just kinda stumble into things every so often:

NASA's Artemis I Orion capsule has now traveled farther beyond Earth than any spacecraft designed to carry astronauts.

The uncrewed Orion flew past the record-setting distance achieved by the Apollo 13 command module "Odyssey" at 248,655 miles from Earth (216,075 nautical miles or 400,171 kilometers) at about 8:40 a.m. EST (1340 GMT) on Saturday (Nov. 26).

The Apollo 13 spacecraft had previously set the record on April 14, 1970, at 7:21 p.m. EST (0021 GMT on April 15).

One of the best parts is that nobody was really aware of what was going on:

"It didn't register [with] me then. We were so busy with our heads down that we just didn't have time to think about it," Gerry Griffin, former flight director who helped lead Mission Control during the Apollo 13 mission, said in a NASA-led Twitter Spaces panel discussion on Tuesday (Nov. 12). "In fact, until just about a year ago, I had no idea we had gone the farthest from Earth on Apollo 13. I figured we'd done it on some other mission."

NASA guys coming back from the bathroom to find the record's been broken like:

Maybe the best part: Neither Apollo 13's record nor that of Artemis was really planned at all:

The original flight plan for Apollo 13 did not have the spacecraft traveling so far away. As is now widely known (having been depicted in a 1995 Hollywood movie), the mission suddenly switched from targeting a moon landing to safely bringing the astronauts back to Earth after a mid-flight explosion tore through the vehicle's service module.

Apollo 13 reached the distance it did because there was an emergency need to use the moon's gravity to slingshot the spacecraft back to Earth as quickly and as safely as possible.

Similarly, the Artemis I flight profile was not designed specifically to break the Apollo 13 record. It only did so because NASA sent the Orion into a lunar distant retrograde orbit.

Mission Control is so good that they're just shattering records even when they don't mean to!

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