Friday, 02 December, 2022
|
In Stepanakert:   +2 °C

NASA’s CAPSTONE Mission Launches to the Moon

NASA’s CAPSTONE Mission Launches to the Moon
1440
Tuesday, 28 June, 2022, 20:00

A small NASA-financed spacecraft launched from New Zealand on Tuesday, kicking off the space agency’s plans to send astronauts back to the moon in a few years.

The spacecraft, called CAPSTONE, is about the size of a microwave oven. It will study a specific orbit where NASA plans to build a small space station for astronauts to stop at before and after going to the moon’s surface.

At 9:55 p.m. local time (5:55 a.m. Eastern time), a 59-foot-tall rocket carrying CAPSTONE lifted off from a launchpad along the eastern coast of New Zealand. Although the mission is gathering information for NASA, it is owned and operated by a private company, Advanced Space, based in Westminster, Colo.
For a spacecraft headed to the moon, CAPSTONE is inexpensive, costing just under $30 million including the launch by Rocket Lab, a U.S.-New Zealand company.
The first two stages of Electron rocket placed CAPSTONE into an elliptical orbit around Earth. For this mission, Rocket Lab essentially added a third stage that will methodically raise the altitude of the spacecraft over the next six days. At that point, CAPSTONE will head on its way to the moon, taking a slow but efficient path, arriving on Nov. 13.
Why is NASA launching CAPSTONE?
The full name of the mission is the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment.

For Artemis, NASA’s program to send astronauts back to the moon, NASA decided to include a small space station around the moon. That would make it easier for astronauts to reach more parts of the moon.
This outpost is to be placed in what is known as a near-rectilinear halo orbit.