A Rocket Lab Electron rocket that will carry the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) spacecraft for NASA is seen at Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula of New Zealand, Tuesday, May 17, 2022.
A microwave oven-sized CubeSat, CAPSTONE serves as a pathfinder for the orbit planned for Gateway – a space station at the Moon that will support NASA’s Artemis program. CAPSTONE will help reduce risk for future spacecraft by validating innovative navigation technologies and verifying the dynamics of this unique, halo-shaped orbit.
CAPSTONE is targeted to launch no earlier than Tuesday, June 28, with an instantaneous launch opportunity at 5:55 a.m. EDT (9:55 UTC). NASA will carry live coverage of the launch beginning at 5 a.m. EDT on June 28 on NASA Television, the agency’s website, and the NASA app.
CAPSTONE is commercially owned and operated by Advanced Space in Westminster, Colorado. It represents an innovative collaboration between NASA and industry to provide rapid results and feedback to inform future exploration and science missions. Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, a Terran Orbital Corporation, of Irvine, California, built the spacecraft. The mission also includes contributions from Stellar Exploration Inc., Space Dynamics Lab, Tethers Unlimited Inc., and Orion Space Systems.
NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology program within the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) funds the demonstration mission. The program is based at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. The development of CAPSTONE’s navigation technology is supported by NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) program, also within STMD. The Artemis Campaign Development Division within NASA’s Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate funds the launch and supports mission operations. The Launch Services Program at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida manages the launch service. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California supports the communication, tracking, and telemetry downlink via NASA’s Deep Space Network, Iris radio design, and groundbreaking one-way navigation algorithms.
Artemis I: We Are Capable
Twin solid rocket boosters that will produce a combined 7.2 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, a towering core stage, and the only human-rated spacecraft in the world capable of deep space travel – together, NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft stand ready to usher in a new chapter of exploration. Now fully assembled at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, SLS and Orion will soon launch on the uncrewed Artemis I mission around the Moon, paving the way for astronauts. Artemis I represents a new generation of spaceflight capabilities and partnerships that will take humans back to the Moon and beyond.
CAPSTONE Launch to the Moon (Official NASA Broadcast)
Watch the launch from New Zealand of CAPSTONE, a new pathfinder CubeSat that will explore a unique orbit around the Moon!
The Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, or CAPSTONE, will be the first spacecraft to fly a near rectilinear halo orbit (NRHO) around the Moon, where the pull of gravity from Earth and the Moon interact to allow for a nearly-stable orbit. CAPSTONE’s test of this orbit will lead the way for our future Artemis lunar outpost called Gateway.
CAPSTONE is targeted to launch at 5:55 a.m. EDT (9:55 UTC) Tuesday, June 28 on Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket from the company’s Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand.
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