CAPSTONE in orbit near the Moon: Once released from Rocket Labs Photon satellite bus, CAPSTONE will utilize its propulsion system to take a trip for around three months prior to participating in orbit around the Moon. Credit: Illustration by NASA/Daniel Rutter
Today (June 28, 2022) Rocket Lab released a CubeSat on a historic pathfinding objective to the moon to support NASAs Artemis program.
NASAs CAPSTONE, a CubeSat developed to check a special lunar orbit, is securely in area and on the first leg of its journey to the Moon. The spacecraft is en route towards an orbit intended in the future for Gateway, a lunar spaceport station developed by NASA and its global and commercial partners that will support NASAs Artemis program, including astronaut missions to the moon.
The Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, or CAPSTONE, mission went for 5:55 a.m. EDT (2:55 a.m. PDT/ 09:55 UTC) on Rocket Labs Electron rocket from the Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula of New Zealand Tuesday.
An image of the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, or CAPSTONE, releasing aboard Rocket Labs Electron rocket from the Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula of New Zealand Tuesday, June 28, 2022. Credit: Rocket Lab
” CAPSTONE is an example of how dealing with industrial partners is essential for NASAs enthusiastic plans to check out the Moon and beyond,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate. “Were thrilled with a successful start to the mission and anticipating what CAPSTONE will do when it gets here at the Moon.”
CAPSTONE is presently in low-Earth orbit, and it will take the spacecraft approximately 4 months to reach its targeted lunar orbit. NASA will post updates about when to see CAPSTONE in the visualization on NASAs Ames Research Centers house page as well as on Twitter and Facebook.
CAPSTONE is connected to Rocket Labs Lunar Photon, an interplanetary third phase that will send CAPSTONE on its way to deep space. Soon after launch, Lunar Photon separated from Electrons 2nd stage. Over the next 6 days, Photons engine will occasionally fire up to accelerate it beyond low-Earth orbit, where Photon will launch the CubeSat on a ballistic lunar transfer trajectory to the Moon. CAPSTONE will then utilize its own propulsion and the Suns gravity to navigate the remainder of the way to the Moon. The gravity-driven track will considerably minimize the quantity of fuel the CubeSat needs to get to the Moon.
” Delivering the spacecraft for launch was an achievement for the whole objective group, consisting of NASA and our market partners. Our group is now getting ready for separation and preliminary acquisition for the spacecraft in 6 days,” said Bradley Cheetham, primary private investigator for CAPSTONE and chief executive officer of Advanced Space, which runs and owns CAPSTONE on behalf of NASA. “We have actually currently discovered an incredible quantity getting to this point, and we are enthusiastic about the importance of returning human beings to the Moon, this time to remain!”
At the Moon, CAPSTONE will go into a lengthened orbit called a near rectilinear halo orbit, or NRHO. As soon as in the NRHO, CAPSTONE will fly within 1,000 miles of the Moons North Pole on its near pass and 43,500 miles from the South Pole at its farthest. It will repeat the cycle every six and a half days and maintain this orbit for a minimum of six months to study dynamics.
” CAPSTONE is a pathfinder in numerous methods, and it will demonstrate several innovation capabilities throughout its mission timeframe while navigating a never-before-flown orbit around the Moon,” said Elwood Agasid, job manager for CAPSTONE at NASAs Ames Research Center in Californias Silicon Valley. “CAPSTONE is laying a foundation for Artemis, Gateway, and industrial assistance for future lunar operations.”
Throughout its mission, CAPSTONE will provide data about running in an NRHO and showcase crucial technologies. The objectives Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System, established by Advanced Space with assistance from NASAs Small Business Innovation Research program, is a spacecraft-to-spacecraft navigation and communications system that will deal with NASAs Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to identify the range in between the 2 lunar orbiting spacecraft. This technology could enable future spacecraft to determine their position in area without relying exclusively on tracking from Earth. CAPSTONE likewise brings a new accuracy one-way varying capability constructed into its radio that could decrease the quantity of ground network time needed for in-space operations.
In addition to New Zealand hosting CAPSTONEs launch, New Zealands Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and a University of Canterbury-led team are teaming up with NASA on a research effort to track Moon-orbiting spacecraft. New Zealand helped establish the Artemis Accords– which develop a practical set of principles to direct area expedition cooperation amongst nations taking part in NASAs 21st century lunar exploration strategies. In May 2021, New Zealand was the 11th country to sign the Artemis Accords.
The microwave-oven sized CubeSat was designed and constructed by Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, a Terran Orbital Corporation. CAPSTONE includes contributions from Stellar Exploration, Inc., Space Dynamics Lab, Tethers Unlimited, Inc., and Orion Space Systems. NASAs Small Spacecraft Technology program within the agencys Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) funds the demonstration mission. The program is based at NASAs Ames Research Center in Californias Silicon Valley. The development of CAPSTONEs navigation innovation is supported by NASAs Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) program, likewise within STMD. The Artemis Campaign Development Division within NASAs Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate funds the launch and supports mission operations. The Launch Services Program at NASAs Kennedy Space Center in Florida manages the launch service. NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory supports the telemetry, interaction, and tracking downlink via NASAs Deep Space Network, Iris radio style, and groundbreaking 1-way navigation algorithms.
NASA will publish updates about when to see CAPSTONE in the visualization on NASAs Ames Research Centers house page as well as on Twitter and Facebook.
CAPSTONE is connected to Rocket Labs Lunar Photon, an interplanetary 3rd phase that will send out CAPSTONE on its method to deep space. Our team is now preparing for separation and preliminary acquisition for the spacecraft in six days,” said Bradley Cheetham, primary private investigator for CAPSTONE and primary executive officer of Advanced Space, which owns and runs CAPSTONE on behalf of NASA. In addition to New Zealand hosting CAPSTONEs launch, New Zealands Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and a University of Canterbury-led team are teaming up with NASA on a research effort to track Moon-orbiting spacecraft. The advancement of CAPSTONEs navigation innovation is supported by NASAs Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) program, also within STMD.