We are in a new era of lunar exploration, development and settlement.
Originally posted to Space.com on 16 April 2023.
On June 28, 2022, CAPSTONE launched into space on a dedicated rocket as the first mission of the Artemis program, ushering in a new generation of lunar exploration, development and settlement. With NASA’s leadership and global involvement, we are entering a period that will define the future of space exploration: the Artemis Generation.
As the architects of CAPSTONE, our team has learned first-hand the challenges of lunar missions. From communications and propulsion anomalies to suspected radiation upsets, traveling to the moon and operating there is not an easy task. During these challenges, however, the best of the industry united and we overcame — such alignment is the key to successful long-term lunar development. (more…)
The CAPSTONE Mission Team has been busy continuing to operate the mission in its planned Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit (NRHO). Thus far, since performing the NRHO insertion maneuver on November 13th, 2022, the spacecraft has spent 154 days operating in the NRHO completing 23 NRHO revolutions. During this time, the mission team has maintained knowledge of the spacecraft state well within the mission requirements using ground-based navigation tools and tracking measurements collected by the Deep Space Network including DSS-17 which is an affiliated site at Morehead State University in Kentucky. This navigation information has continued to support the design and execution of required maneuvers to maintain the orbit. Minimum maneuver size constraints have been sequentially reduced as the combined mission operations teams at Advanced Space, Terran Orbital, and Stellar Exploration continue to mitigate issues with a thruster valve. Since entering the NRHO the spacecraft has executed six Orbit Maintenance Maneuvers (OMM) using approximately 1.8 m/s of fuel. Although the mission plan was originally to do a maneuver every NRHO (approximately once a week), the higher burn threshold has reduced the number of maneuvers performed while also demonstrating the robustness of the stationkeeping strategy utilized by the mission which is the same strategy planned for the Lunar Gateway. (more…)