A small satellite is ready to start something far more spectacular: a full-fledged lunar space station. NASA’s CAPSTONE satellite is scheduled to be launched on Monday and then travel to a unique lunar orbit on a mission to search for paths to Artemis programwhich seeks to bring people back to the moon later this decade.
CAPSTONE board the Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket, which will take off from the private company Launch Complex 1 in Mahia, New Zealand. Rocket Lab made headlines in May using a helicopter to catch a falling launch vehicle. The launch of CAPSTONE is scheduled for 6 a.m. ET on June 27, with the live broadcast starting an hour earlier. You can catch the action in the agency website or apor you can watch it in the live bar below.
Approximately one week after the CAPSTONE mission, the probe’s voyage will be provided through NASA The eyes of the solar system interactive 3D real-time data visualization.
The Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) mission will send a microwave-sized satellite to an almost rectilinear halo orbit (NRHO) around the moon. The satellite will be the first to orbit this unique lunar orbit, testing it for the planned Lunar portala small space station that aims to allow a permanent human presence on the moon.
NRHO is special in that it is the place where gravity from the Moon and Earth interact; this orbit would theoretically keep the spacecraft in a “gravitational sweet spot” in an almost stable orbit around the moon, According to to NASA. NRHO is therefore ideal, as it will require less fuel than conventional orbits and will allow the proposed lunar space station to maintain a constant line of communication with Earth. But before NASA builds its Gateway in this highly elliptical orbit, the space agency will use CAPSTONE – owned and operated by Colorado-based Advanced Space – to test its orbital models.
Six days after launching from Earth, the upper stage of the Electron rocket will release the CAPSTONE satellite during its journey to the moon. The 55-pound (25-pound) cubesat will then complete the rest of its four-month journey on its own. Once on the moon, CAPSTONE will test the orbital dynamics of its orbit for about six months. The satellite will also be used to test spacecraft-to-space navigation technology and one-way range capabilities, which could ultimately reduce the need for future spacecraft to communicate with Earth mission controllers and wait for signals to be transmitted by other spacecraft.
NASA is methodically collecting pieces for the agency’s planned return to the moon. IN the fourth and latest wet rehearsal of the space agency’s space launch system (SLS) went wellpaving the way for a possible launch in late August.