This Satellite Is The First Piece Of A Permanent Base On The Moon

NASA to Launch Capstone, a 55-Pound CubeSat to the Moon – The New York Times

NASA is launching a spacecraft named CAPSTONE to the moon as part of its 21st-century moon program. It won’t have any astronauts aboard, and it won’t even land on the moon, but it could serve as a template for future missions to the moon.

The launch of CAPSTONE was delayed by at least one day on Sunday, and the subsequent launch attempt is scheduled for June 28th.

The Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment will act as a scout for the lunar orbit where a space station will eventually be built.

The CAPSTONE mission, a collaboration between NASA and Advance Space, will cost $20 million and be launched by Rocket Lab for $10 million.

President Donald J. Trump declared in 2017 that a top priority for his administration’s space policy was to send astronauts back to the moon.

NASA decided to put a space station around the moon in a near-rectilinear halo orbit, which minimizes the fuel needed to keep the spacecraft stable.

CAPSTONE, the satellite, will fly in a near-rectilinear halo orbit to help validate the underlying mathematics of the orbit.

Without any global positioning system, satellites around the moon to pinpoint precise locations, keeping the spacecraft in the desired orbit might take some trial and error.

CAPSTONE will use signals from NASA’s Deep Space Network to triangulate an estimate of its position. It will test an alternative method of finding its place by communicating with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Advanced Space’s CAPSTONE spacecraft has a computer-chip-scale atomic clock that can help pinpoint the spacecraft’s location. Because Advanced Space owns CAPSTONE, it was able to make that change without getting permission from NASA.

Advanced Space had negotiated a fixed fee for the mission, so it could not go to NASA to ask for additional money. This was similar to NASA’s successful strategy of using fixed-price contracts with SpaceX.

Advanced Space’s work was mainly theoretical until CAPSTONE, and now they are not really in the spacecraft-building business.

Advanced Space was able to buy CAPSTONE, a 12-cube CubeSat, almost off-the-shelf from Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems of Irvine, Calif., but it still required a lot of problem-solving to fly the CubeSat to the moon.

Gateway is the moon base program, and modules for the eventual base are already under contract with NASA. The EU Space Agency is also contributing two modules to the project.

Mr. Hartman, the Gateway program manager, says CAPSTONE is not essential to moving ahead with the lunar outpost, but it will reduce error bars.

Dr. Cheetham, CEO of Advance Space, is thinking about missions to the moon and Mars and is also interested in missions to Venus, a planet he said does not get enough attention.

For more on this story, please consider these sources:

  1. NASA to Launch Capstone, a 55-Pound CubeSat to the Moon  The New York Times
  2. NASA Hopes to Launch a Very Special Microwave-Sized Satellite on Monday [Updated]  Gizmodo
  3. Artemis 1 moon mission could launch as soon as late August
  4. How to watch NASA launch a satellite into an experimental lunar orbit  Digital Trends
  5. NASA determines Space Launch System testing complete  TechCrunch
  6. View Full Coverage on Google News