Orion is returning to Earth with a marked orbital inclination compared to its Lunar Distant Retrograde Orbit (DRO).
Orbital inclination changes require a great deal of delta-v, and Orion is on a tight delta-v budget. In-plane orbital changes are made most economically at periapsis but orbital plane inclination changes are most economical at apoapsis
The published mission descriptions mention major burns during the return trajectory at the Distant Retrograde Orbit Departure (DROD) and the Return Powered Flyby (RPF). I cannot find reference to a plane change as part of either of these. I assume it was done as part of the DROD? What is the angle between the DRO and the return transit?
Red rectangle is plane of DRO
Blue rectangle is plane of return transit
Green rectangle is the plane of the transit between DROD and RPF
The purple line is Orion’s return transit:
- in DRO
- at braking and presumed plane change DROD burn
- at RPF (presumed in-plane only)
- trajectory South of the DRO plane
- Earth arrival over the South Pacific Ocean