NASA has lost contact with Capstone. Capstone is a small satellite that left Earth’s orbit on July 4. The cube-shaped minisatellite is part of NASA’s plans to send people to the moon again in the near future after more than 50 years.
Capstone weighs 25 kilograms and is about the size of a microwave oven. The acronym stands for Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment. The satellite is intended to be a sort of signpost for NASA’s planned Lunar Gateway space station. It will be installed in orbit around the moon starting around 2025 and will serve as a stopover for astronauts on their way to the moon.
NASA is trying to reestablish contact
On June 28, aboard a Rocket Lab Electron launch vehicle, the satellite was successfully launched into Earth orbit, where it remained for nearly a week. Finally, on July 4, Capstone was ejected from Earth orbit and headed for the moon.
However, shortly after the satellite separated from the launch vehicle, NASA lost contact with Capstone. According to a US space agency spokeswoman, the team is trying to re-establish contact. Fortunately, the mission has enough fuel to perform the first trajectory correction maneuver several days later than planned. More updates will be provided as soon as possible, she wrote in an email, which is available for the news portal Space.com.
Satellite to navigate autonomously
Capstone was scheduled to enter a nearly straight-line halo orbit around the Moon on Nov. 13 and serve as a test for NASA’s Artemis mission. Your main task is to find out how much fuel is needed to fly to Halo Orbit. This cannot happen directly because it would require too much fuel.
An average flight to the moon in the past took about three days, Capstone should try an alternative, less fuel-intensive route, on which more unmanned lunar missions should take place in the future. The hub satellite should need three to four months for this.
In addition, NASA wants to test the satellite’s navigation and communication capabilities: so far, without exception, all deep space missions have been controlled from the ground. a NASA manager responsible for the project told the mdr. Once on the moon, you must establish a connection with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. It has been on site since 2009 and has mapped the entire lunar surface. Through the cross-connection with the lunar probe, Capstone should be able to determine its position autonomously. To do this, a high-frequency signal is sent between the satellite and the probe, which Capstone should be able to use to determine position.
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