International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

CAPSTONE: NASA’s satellite, newly launched

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CAPSTONE satellite

Mains level : Not Much

NASA has launched CAPSTONE, a microwave oven-sized CubeSat weighing just 55 pounds (25 kg).

What is CAPSTONE?

  • CAPSTONE, short for Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, is designed to test a unique, elliptical lunar orbit.
  • It aims to help reduce risk for future spacecraft by validating innovative navigation technologies, and by verifying the dynamics of the halo-shaped orbit.

Its launch

  • It is heading toward an orbit intended in the future for Gateway, a Moon-orbiting outpost that is part of NASA’s Artemis program.
  • The orbit is known as a near-rectilinear halo orbit (NRHO).
  • It is significantly elongated, and is located at a precise balance point in the gravities of Earth and the Moon.
  • This offers stability for long-term missions like Gateway, NASA said on its website.

Mission details

  • CAPSTONE will enter NRHO, where it will fly within 1,600 km of the Moon’s North Pole on its near pass and 70,000 km from the South Pole at its farthest.
  • The spacecraft will repeat the cycle every six-and-a-half days and maintain this orbit for at least six months to study dynamics.

 

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