NASA’s Orion spacecraft begins journey back to Earth

In this photo provided by NASA, the Earth and its moon are seen from NASA's Orion spacecraft on Nov 28, 2022. Orion and its three test dummies entered lunar orbit on Nov 25, more than a week after launching on the first flight of the Artemis program. (NASA VIA AP)

LOS ANGELES – NASA's Orion spacecraft has left its distant lunar orbit and is on its return journey back to Earth, according to NASA.

Orion conducted an engine burn on Thursday to propel the spacecraft out of its distant lunar orbit.

The burn is one of two maneuvers required ahead of Orion's splashdown in the Pacific Ocean on Dec 11, according to NASA.

READ MORE: NASA's Orion spacecraft completes closest flyby of Moon

The second will occur on Dec 5, when the spacecraft will fly 126.7 kilometers above the lunar surface and perform the return powered flyby burn, which will commit Orion on its course toward Earth.

This screengrab from NASA TV shows NASA's Orion capsule, left, nearing the moon, right, Nov 21, 2022. At center is Earth. (NASA VIA AP)

Orion was launched onboard NASA's Space Launch System rocket on Nov 16 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

ALSO READ: NASA's Artemis mission heads to moon on debut test flight

The Artemis I flight test is an uncrewed mission around the moon that will pave the way for a crewed flight test and future human lunar exploration as part of NASA's Artemis lunar program.