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NASA's Orion capsule returns to Earth, capping Artemis I flight around moon

The return to Earth unfolded on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 17 moon landing in 1972

This photo provided by NASA shows the Orion capsule coming back from the moon. The capsule made a blisteringly fast return Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022, parachuting into the Pacific off Mexico to conclude a dramatic 25-day test flight.    © AP

 (Reuters) -- NASA's Orion capsule barreled through Earth's atmosphere and splashed down in the Pacific ocean on Sunday after making an uncrewed voyage around the moon, winding up the inaugural mission of the U.S. agency's Artemis lunar program 50 years to the day after Apollo's final moon landing.

The gumdrop-shaped Orion capsule, carrying a simulated crew of three mannequins wired with sensors, plunked down in the ocean at 9:40 a.m. PST (1740 GMT) off Mexico's Baja California peninsula, executing a key demonstration of how future lunar astronauts would safely return to Earth.

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