NASA has said that the Orion spaceship has successfully completed its lunar flyby, passing just 81 miles above the lunar surface.
The space agency said Orion reacquired signal with NASA's Deep Space Network, at 7:59 am EST after successfully performing the outbound powered flyby burn at 7:44 am EST, firing the ship's orbital maneuvering system engine for 2 minutes and 30 seconds to accelerate the spacecraft at a rate of more than 580 mph.
At the time of the burn, Orion was 328 miles above the Moon: Shortly after the burn, Orion passed 81 miles above the Moon, traveling at 5,102 mph. Orion is about 230,000 miles from Earth.
This is the first of two maneuvers required to enter the distant retrograde orbit around the Moon, and Orion will remain in this orbit for about a week to test spacecraft systems.
Over the weekend Orion had already reached the point in its journey where the main gravitational force was the Moon ahead of its first lunar flyby.