Breakthrough Technology “Lighthouse” Allows Spacecraft to Communicate and Find Lunar Location in Ways Never Done Before in Space Exploration; Marks first Commercial & Privately Owned Spacecraft to Moon
Westminster, CO (June 28, 2022) Advanced Space LLC., a leading space tech solutions company with breakthrough navigational technology, today announced that its CAPSTONE spacecraft has been launched toward the Moon by Rocket Lab USA Inc. for NASA on June 28, 2022. The CAPSTONE mission will gather operational data ahead of the Artemis program that will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon. This milestone supports the first launch for NASA’s Artemis program and the first commercial and privately owned satellite to operate at the Moon.
The Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, or CAPSTONE, is a small satellite, or CubeSat that will operate in a unique, elliptical orbit, the lunar Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit (NRHO). The NRHO is an important orbit that will be used for NASA’s lunar Gateway, a space station that will support a sustained human presence on the Moon.
“CAPSTONE truly is a great representation of the advancement of the space industry. This small and collaborative industry-government team has really deployed the best of our industry to deliver time sensitive mission capabilities to support our nation,” said Bradley Cheetham, chief executive officer of Advanced Space and principal investigator for CAPSTONE. “Next is separation and initial acquisition of the CAPSTONE spacecraft in six days – our team is ready. It is an honor to make history with NASA as CAPSTONE is on its way to the Moon demonstrating technologies that will enable the sustainable exploration, development, and settlement of space. “
CAPSTONE provides a peer-to-peer navigation system and communication that allows the satellite to determine its location in space around the Moon. The mission also creates infrastructure that will reduce the reliance on communications from Earth-based fixed tracking assets for navigation and operations support. This technology will be critical as space, especially cislunar space, becomes more congested in the coming years.
“Our technology is a breakthrough for how NASA and other customers can navigate in space,” said Dr. Jeff Parker, co-founder of Advanced Space, chief technology officer and author of the book Low-Energy Lunar Trajectory Design. “It’s been a dream come true to see how it will help space exploration,” added Parker.
CAPSTONE will separate from the Rocket Lab Photon spacecraft bus on July 4th and will head to the Moon. It will take four months to arrive at the Moon using the fuel-efficient ballistic transfer design, the subject of Parker’s book. The Advanced Space team designed and will operate the critical maneuvers required to enter the NRHO orbit.
The mission is planned for 6 months for primary operations with at least twelve months of enhanced mission. CAPSTONE launched on Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle.