CAPSTONE becomes the first probe to enter a unique halo orbit around the moon

Animation showing CAPSTONE’s highly elliptical NRHO around the Moon.
GIF: advanced space

NASA agency Artemis program Take an important step forward this The end of the week, with CAPSTONE finally reaching its destination – the Nearly Straight Halo Orbit (NRHO) around the Moon. The 55-pound cube moon will test this promising orbit in preparation for the lunar Gateway space station.

CAPSTONE, short for Cislunar Autonomous GPS Technology Operations and Navigation Experience, arrived at NRHO on Sunday, November 13, according to Advanced Space press release. Later this week, the $33 million Cubesat instrument will attempt small cleaning maneuvers to confirm its position in the lunar orbit. In addition to being the first man-made instrument to operate at NRHO, CAPSTONE “is the first CubeSat to fly and operate on the Moon,” according to Advanced Space.

Artist's depiction of CAPSTONE.

Artist’s depiction of CAPSTONE.
Clarification: NASA

NASA funded satellite Launched Aboard Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket on June 28. CAPSTONE was designed and built by Terran Orbital, while Advanced Space, with help from Terran Orbital and NASA, is managing the mission.

A spokesperson for Advanced Space told Gizmodo at E-mail. “So far so good. Today, we celebrate this great achievement.”

CAPSTONE is Serves as a scout for NASA’s Artemis programthat seeks to return humans to the moon later this decade. To support these missions, NASA and its international partners want to put a space station into orbit around the Moon. The highly elongated NRHO is ideal for spacecraft and space stations because it will require less fuel than standard orbits, while also allowing for continuous communications with ground stations on Earth. TThe CAPSTONE probe will be “able to bounce back and rest in a gravitational sweet spot in space – where the gravitational pull of Earth and the Moon interact to allow a near-stable orbit – allowing physics to do most of the conservation work in orbit around the Moon,” NASA said. DescribeDr.

More on this story: What to know about Moon Gate, NASA’s future lunar orbit space station

The NRHO’s 16-minute CAPSTONE insertion maneuver began at 7:22 a.m. ET on Sunday. All that was needed for the mission was 0.44 newtons of thrust, the amount of force equal to the weight of nine sheets of standard printer paper, according to Advanced Space. After the introduction, CAPSTONE indulged in some sunbathing to recharge his batteries. Data received by the controllers at 8:00 AM ET confirmed that CAPSTONE had successfully reached the NRHO.

Cubesat’s trip to the moon was not the size of a microwave oven without incident. The The third course correction maneuver in early September triggered a coup at CAPSTONEas a result of a valve being partially opened in one Eight batches. The satellite entered safe mode and entered a file It prevented it from collecting solar energy and communicating properly with the mission controllers. Four weeks later, the team Transmitted recovery sequence To CAPSTONE when diagnosing the problem and setting the task Back to the right track.

“I am extremely proud of the entire CAPSTONE team who overcame unexpected challenges during the transit to the Moon,” said Austin Williams, chief technology officer of Terran Orbital, in one of the companies. statement. “The success of this mission is a testament to the rapidly growing commercial aerospace industry. Risk mitigation missions like CAPSTONE are aggressive, fast, and forward-leaning with the intent of pushing the latest in technology. Unequivocally, the CAPSTONE mission has succeeded in this respect.”

CAPSTONE’s next step, apart from the final cleaning maneuvers, is to test the CAPS program developed by Advanced Space. CAPS should allow spacecraft to communicate with other spacecraft, reducing the need for ground stations to mediate these sessions. This will become increasingly important as more satellites are sent to the Moon in the coming years, and as NASA and its international partners work to build a sustainable crew. Being in the lunar environment.

more: Satellite sets new relay record to send Mars messages to Earth

Leave a Comment