Science and Tech

NASA reestablishes contact with its new lunar probe CAPSTONE

NASA reestablishes contact with its new lunar probe CAPSTONE

July 6. () –

mission operators have reestablished contact with NASA’s CAPSTONE (Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment) spacecraft.

Following the initial deployment on July 4, the spacecraft –a cubeSat sent to study a new lunar orbit for the future Gateway station– successfully deployed solar panels, stabilized and began charging its onboard battery. The propulsion system was also readied for the spacecraft’s first maneuver.

CAPSTONE, the size of a microwave oven, made initial contact with the DSN (Deep Space Network) ground station in Madrid, followed by partial contact with the Goldstone ground station in California. From these contacts, mission operators were able to determine CAPSTONE’s approximate position and velocity in space, but communication was then cut off.

As a result, CAPSTONE’s first trajectory correction maneuver, originally scheduled for the morning of July 5, was delayed. This maneuver was the first in a series that is designed to make small corrections to increase the accuracy of the transfer orbit to the Moon, and the spacecraft stayed on the intended overall lunar ballistic transfer while awaiting this trajectory correction.

As a result of the work of the mission teams, NASA reported on July 6 in a blog update that contact had been reestablished with the ship. Maneuvers to reach its lunar orbit are expected to resume on a planned four-month trip.

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