NASA’s Orion spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Mexico on Sunday, bringing a successful end to a 25-day test flight that sent the uncrewed vehicle around the moon and back to Earth.

The flight, named Artemis I, helps pave the way for NASA’s program to return humans to the surface of the moon later in the decade for the first time since 1972.

After spending more than three weeks in deep space, Orion began its descent through Earth’s atmosphere at 12:20 p.m. Eastern, reaching scorching temperatures of about 2,760 degrees Celsius. The spacecraft performed an unusual skip entry technique, bouncing off the atmosphere to slow its speed before resuming its descent. The maneuver is intended to lower G forces that future astronauts will have to endure.