SAN DIEGO — After landing south of San Diego near Baja California, the Artemis-I Orion Capsule will arrive at Naval Base San Diego Tuesday morning.

Currently aboard the amphibious landing dock, the USS Portland, the Orion spacecraft is returning to dry land in San Diego following an unmanned mission to the Moon years in the making.

“All of the services that are involved in this, the Marine Corps, Airforce, U.S, Space Command, we have all been working together for years to bring this to a reality and it makes me very proud to be a part of a historic event. And I hope to be in this position in a few years, when we go to the next step,” Krishna “Krash” Jackson excitedly explained to FOX 5 in an interview ahead of the event.

NASA Recovery Director, Melissa Jones also spoke to FOX 5 via phone call while aboard the ship just a day following the recovery Sunday. She detailed the moments following the Pacific Ocean splashdown, calling it picture perfect.

“Oh, it was electric on the ship. Everyone had been waiting so long for this to happen and it was surreal that it was actually happening, and you can just feel the excitement in the air,” Jones shared.

With the help of the USS Montgomery, four small boats, two combat crafts, and divers located the capsule in the ocean, and then brought it aboard the USS Portland Sunday. This moment is backed by years of training finally put into practice to safely recover the capsule. The lessons learned from Sunday’s recovery will work to ensure future safety for Artemis flights. The first mission with astronauts aboard the capsule is expected to launch in 2024.

“We heard the helicopters call capture which means we had visual indication of it coming back to the atmosphere which was an unbelievable feeling.” 

MELISSA JONES, DIRECTOR, NASA RECOVERY

This mission is the first test of NASA’s goals to explore deep space, laying the groundwork in sending astronauts to the moon and beyond, a slow and careful approach dating back to 2014.

“I happened to be here when they brought the Orion spacecraft off the ship to test it…they haven’t sent it into space at that time,” Francis French, a space historian located in San Diego, told FOX 5.

Eight years later marks yet another monumental moment in San Diego, a city rooted in space history.

“This is not only where the spacecraft is coming back Tuesday morning, but half a century ago, the Apollo spacecraft is very similar in shape to the Artemis spacecraft, is coming back here. This is like repeating history from half of a century ago,” French said.

The USS Portland will arrive in San Diego around 9 a.m. Following this, Orion will then be shipped off to the Kennedy Space Center where NASA will continue to gather data for the next manned journey to the Moon.

Learn more about the Artemis I flight test here.

The interagency landing and recovery team is responsible for safely recovering the capsule and crew on future missions, after splashdown, and returning them both to land. Artemis includes a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration at the Moon, where the agency will prepare for future missions with crew to Mars.