CAPSTONE Contributes to a Resilient U.S. Space Architecture in Cislunar Space
Westminster, CO — Advanced Space, a leading space tech solutions company, announced today that their Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) mission has successfully operated on-orbit around the Moon for a full year. This milestone puts the company in an elite category logging over 365 days of continuous operations in the cislunar environment. As the first company to operate a commercial satellite at the Moon, Advanced Space has gained valuable insights around cislunar operations that can only come from hands-on experience.
Over the course of the year, CAPSTONE has maintained its unique Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit (NRHO) gathering data to inform future operations of the lunar Gateway space station in support of NASA’s Artemis program. The CAPSTONE mission has also demonstrated a novel spacecraft-to-spacecraft navigation technology called the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System (CAPS) and explored incorporating one-way uplink measurements through an onboard Chip Scale Atomic Clock (CSAC), the first ever flown at the Moon.
“Our experience at the Moon has provided tremendous insights and lessons learned that will be invaluable as we continue to build the infrastructure that will support current and future lunar activity. I want to thank our incredible team for their dedication as they worked through challenges and implemented solutions real-time to get us here today” said Advanced Space CEO and President Bradley Cheetham. “We are also grateful for the support of NASA and our partners throughout this historic journey.”
Advanced Space is currently undergoing an Enhanced Mission Phase for its primary customer, NASA, and with around 50% of its fuel remaining the company is engaging with customers and the community for additional on-orbit experiments to be performed using the existing on-board flight computer and surplus fuel.
“Space exploration deepens our understanding of planet Earth, the moon, and what lies beyond. Colorado’s aerospace economy and Advanced Space are spearheading American innovation to help us maintain our leadership in space,” said U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper.
CAPSTONE™ is owned and operated by Advanced Space. It is one of the first CubeSats to fly in cislunar space – the orbital area near and around the Moon – and demonstrate an innovative spacecraft-to-spacecraft navigation technology. The mission launched on June 28, 2022. Critical partners in the CAPSTONE mission include:
- NASA: CAPSTONE’s development is supported by the Space Technology Mission Directorate via the Small Spacecraft Technology and Small Business Innovation Research programs at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. The Artemis Campaign Development Division within NASA’s Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate supported the launch and mission operations. NASA’s Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center in Florida was responsible for launch management. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory supported the communication, tracking, and telemetry downlink via NASA’s Deep Space Network, Iris radio design and groundbreaking 1-way navigation algorithms.
- Terran Orbital Corporation: Spacecraft design, development and implementation, hardware manufacturing, assembly, testing and mission operations support.
- Stellar Exploration: Propulsion subsystem provider.
- Rocket Lab USA, Inc.: Launch provider for CAPSTONE on a three-stage Electron launch vehicle.
- Space Dynamics Lab (SDL): Iris radio and navigation firmware provider.
- Orion Space Solutions (formerly Astra): Chip Scale Atomic Clock (CSAC) hardware provider necessary for the 1-way ranging experiment.
- Tethers Unlimited, Inc.: Cross Link radio provider.
- Morehead State University (MSU): Operates the newest “affiliated node” on the NASA Deep Space Network (DSN). Providing telemetry, tracking and control services for NASA and commercial space missions and to engage university students in deep space mission operations.