NASA CAPSTONE Mission to Moon Set to Launch from New Zealand on June 27

destination for this microwave oven-size CubeSat is a near rectilinear halo orbit

NASA’s Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE), is the first spacecraft to fly a specific unique lunar orbit ahead of future missions with a crew. CAPSTONE is targeted to launch no earlier than Monday, June 27, aboard a Rocket Lab Electron rocket from the company’s Launch Complex 1 in Mahia, New Zealand. (NASA image)

(NASA) – NASA’s Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE), is the first spacecraft to fly a specific unique lunar orbit ahead of future missions with a crew.

CAPSTONE is targeted to launch no earlier than Monday, June 27, aboard a Rocket Lab Electron rocket from the company’s Launch Complex 1 in Mahia, New Zealand.

The instantaneous launch opportunity is at 6 a.m. EDT (10:00 UTC). Live coverage will begin at 5 a.m. on NASA Television, the agency’s website, and the NASA app.

The destination for this microwave oven-size CubeSat is a near rectilinear halo orbit (NRHO). That same orbit is planned for Gateway, a multipurpose outpost for long-term lunar missions as part of the agency’s Artemis program.

Six days after launch, the Photon upper stage will release CAPSTONE into space for the first portion of the spacecraft’s solo flight.

After a four-month journey to the Moon, CAPSTONE will test the dynamics of the NRHO for at least six months, helping reduce the risk for future spacecraft.

CAPSTONE will also demonstrate innovative spacecraft-to-spacecraft navigation technology and one-way ranging capabilities that could help future spacecraft fly near the Moon with reduced need for communication with Earth.

Visualize CAPSTONE’s Flight in Real Time

You can follow CAPSTONE’s journey live using NASA’s Eyes on the Solar System interactive real-time 3D data visualization.

Starting about one week after launch, you can virtually ride along with the CubeSat with a simulated solar system view. NASA will post updates in the visualization on the agency’s Ames Research Center home page as well as Twitter and Facebook. (NASA image)

Starting about one week after launch, you can virtually ride along with the CubeSat with a simulated solar system view. NASA will post updates in the visualization on the agency’s Ames Research Center home page as well as Twitter and Facebook.

CAPSTONE is commercially owned and operated by Advanced Space in Westminster, Colorado, on behalf of NASA.

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.

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