NASA hoped for a trouble-free Artemis I mission, which would take its unmanned Orion capsule around the moon and back, but the spacecraft experienced a communications fault overnight.
Orion connects with Earth via the Deep Space Network, a global network of antennas.
“NASA’s Mission Control Center at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston unexpectedly lost data to and from the spacecraft for 47 minutes at 12:09 a.m. CST while reconfiguring the communication link between Orion and the Deep Space Network overnight,” the space agency said in a statement Wednesday morning.
The 47-minute silence was a crucial moment. It would have been far more tense if there had been astronauts on board. But, Jim Free, an assistant administrator at NASA, tweeted, “This is why we test.”
Last week, Orion was launched by NASA’s massive Space Launch System rocket from Florida. As part of the planned Artemis II mission, which will take astronauts around the moon, Artemis I will test the technology and systems used.
After attempting to fix the error on Earth, NASA was able to reestablish communication with Orion.
“The reconfiguration has been conducted several times successfully in the last few days, and the team is investigating the cause of the loss of signal,” the agency said.
The spacecraft is in a pretty good state, according to NASA. The first part of Orion’s journey has been relatively uneventful. It took off in style, snapped a few selfies, and the moon buzzed it. On December 11, it will make its way back to Earth for a splashdown.
There are many obstacles in space, mainly when new equipment and software are used for the first time. Therefore, solving these issues without astronaut involvement is ideal.