The CAPSTONE CubeSat from NASA will reach lunar orbit.


The CAPSTONE CubeSat from NASA will reach lunar orbit.

A novel lunar orbit and a cutting-edge navigation technology are on display in NASA’s CAPSTONE project, which can help the organization’s Artemis Moon missions. 

On November 13, NASA’s CAPSTONE mission will land on the Moon, becoming the first spacecraft to enter a unique extended orbit that may enable next space missions. The satellite, which is about the size of a microwave oven and weighs around 25 kilos, will be the first CubeSat to fly and function on the Moon.

The CAPSTONE spacecraft’s inbuilt reaction wheel was unable to regulate or reverse the spin after an unintentional trajectory correction maneuver on September 8. NASA teams were able to provide recovery commands later, on October 7, which stopped this uncontrollable spin.


Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment is known as CAPSTONE. A CubeSat for the project was sent into orbit to test a special lunar orbit known as a near rectilinear halo orbit (NRHO), which is very elongated and situated at a precise equilibrium point between the gravitational pulls of the Earth and the Moon.

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The CAPSTONE spacecraft has been traveling to the moon for the past four months on an unusual but effective deep space route.


This path, known as a ballistic lunar transfer, uses extremely minimal energy to get the spacecraft to its destination by following the gravitational contours in space.

The NRHO insertion, which is the mission’s crucial step, requires the approach of the CAPSTONE spacecraft to be exactly aligne for it to reach the Moon at the conclusion of its gravity-driven trajectory. The spacecraft’s manoeuvre schedule has previously been changeable dependent on the spacecraft’s performance and other considerations.

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The spacecraft will reach the orbit with a careful, perfectly timed propulsive maneuver while moving at a speed of almost 6,000 kilometers per hour. A “flying trapeze performer who jumps from one arc to another with a determine, acrobatic action,” according to NASA.


The NRHO orbit can serve as an excellent staging region for missions to the Moon and beyond . Because it is at a precise spot where the gravitational pulls of the Earth and the Moon are balance. By confirming this orbit, CAPSTONE will assist in lowering the hazards associated with next flights and may even aid in the development of long-term missions like the Gateway space station.


In addition to NRHO, CAPSTONE will show off the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System, a crucial software advancement (CAPS). With the help of CAPS’ ground-breaking spacecraft-to-spacecraft navigation system, future missions will be able to locate themselves independently of Earth-based tracking. To determine its own position in space, CAPSTONE can communicate with NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter directly. The Artemis missions of NASA will be support by this software solution.

Source: indianexpress

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