We Are Going To The Moon

We Are Going To The Moon

The Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) Mission is launching to the Moon in 2021. This mission is a rapid and low-cost small spacecraft pathfinder for the Artemis program; it will leverage a highly efficient transfer to the Moon; and will demonstrate our proprietary peer-to-peer navigation capability in the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System (CAPS).

The Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) Mission is launching to the Moon in 2021. This mission is a rapid and low-cost small spacecraft pathfinder for the Artemis program, will leverage a highly efficient transfer to the Moon, and demonstrate our proprietary peer-to-peer navigation capability in the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System (CAPS).

The Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) Mission is launching to the Moon in 2021. This mission is a rapid and low-cost small spacecraft pathfinder for the Artemis program, will leverage a highly efficient transfer to the Moon, and demonstrate our proprietary peer-to-peer navigation capability in the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System (CAPS).

From Idea to Mission

Like many missions, CAPSTONE started with a question: what does a safe, sustainable future at the Moon look like? How do we bridge the gap between today and that future?

Advanced Space began to develop CAPS, and NASA continued to develop the Artemis program. These two paths led to common ground and resulted in the pursuit of a rapid technology demonstration that would provide invaluable experience for future efforts headed to the Moon.

From Idea to Mission

Like many missions, CAPSTONE started with a question: what does a safe, sustainable future at the Moon look like? How do we bridge the gap between today and that future?

Advanced Space began to develop CAPS, and NASA continued to develop the Artemis program. These two paths led to common ground and resulted in the pursuit of a rapid technology demonstration that would provide invaluable experience for future efforts headed to the Moon.

Development

From an idea to a pitch to a signed contract, CAPSTONE was funded by NASA in mid 2019. From there, the clock was ticking – while the average mission can take years to design, develop, manufacture, and launch, CAPSTONE is going at a breakneck pace from contract to launch readiness. This is possible through dedicated efforts from Advanced Space, close collaboration with customers and suppliers, and a laser focus on the core drivers of schedule and capabilities.  The rapid program benefits from exhaustive investment from NASA and commercial investment from key suppliers.

Launch

Launching in 2021, CAPSTONE will be the first mission of the Artemis Generation, and the spacecraft will be lifting off in just a few short months. After several days of getting into position, the CAPSTONE spacecraft will separate from the launch vehicle upper stage and begin its journey to the Moon. CAPSTONE will be launching on a Rocket Lab Electron Rocket. This will be the first mission for Electron beyond Low Earth Orbit and the CAPSTONE spacecraft will be the only payload launched on this flight. The injection accuracy is a critical start to the next phase of the mission.

Transfer

Transfer starts out with a critical 72 hours where the spacecraft will turn on, boot up, get a navigation solution, and execute its first maneuver. This start to the transfer is very important, from this key beginning the transfer to the Moon will leverage a highly efficient transfer that utilizes solar gravity to get to the Moon while requiring very little fuel. The transfer is called a Ballistic Lunar Transfer, from injection by the launch vehicle it will travel to approximately 1.5 million km from the Earth. During the transfer the spacecraft will take images using the on-board camera and will execute several maneuvers to correct for errors and target the orbit insertion at the Moon. This transfer approach has been used by spacecraft in the past and is likely to be used by many missions in the future. Advanced Space specializes in these highly dynamic orbit designs and operations which have enabled CAPSTONE and will support future programs as well.

 

NRHO

The target orbit at the Moon for CAPSTONE is the Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit (NRHO). Entering into this orbit will require a critical maneuver from the spacecraft. A critical maneuver means that it must be executed and there is very little margin for error. The NRHO is the destination for NASA’s Lunar Gateway. This unique orbit has many beneficial attributes to support sustainable architectures for exploring, developing, and settling the Moon. This orbit requires a small maneuver about once every week. While in this orbit the CAPSTONE spacecraft and the team at Advanced Space will be demonstrating operational performance and confirming simulations to support future NASA utilization for the Gateway and other exploration elements.

 

Crosslink

Demonstrating enabling technologies for future cislunar exploration and development is a top objective for the CAPSTONE mission. Throughout the mission, the spacecraft will be demonstrating foundational capabilities for new technologies. Specifically the mission will mature the flight software for the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System (CAPS). The mission will also be working closely with the NASA operations team for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) to demonstrate a first-of-its-kind crosslink. This operation will see CAPSTONE send a signal to LRO and for LRO to return it to CAPSTONE where it will be turned into a measurement and used in the CAPS software to determine the location of both spacecraft. This navigation approach will be the key to the future of cislunar operations where many more spacecraft will be operating at the Moon.

 

Beyond

The future of humanity is in the stars, and though none of us can begin to guess what that future will look like in the end we can start to plan the pieces that will enable it. After the CAPSTONE demonstration of the NRHO and the CAPS capability, there is plenty of potential for continued development. Whether that is in support of additional missions flying to the Moon or providing a navigation node to surface operations, the versatility of the CAPSTONE satellite offers a variety of paths forward to further our exploration of the Moon and beyond.

 

Development

From an idea to a pitch to a signed contract, CAPSTONE was funded by NASA in mid 2019. From there, the clock was ticking – while the average mission can take years to design, develop, manufacture, and launch, CAPSTONE is going at a breakneck pace from contract to launch readiness. This is possible through dedicated efforts from Advanced Space, close collaboration with customers and suppliers, and a laser focus on the core drivers of schedule and capabilities.  The rapid program benefits from exhaustive investment from NASA and commercial investment from key suppliers.

Launch

Launching in 2021, CAPSTONE will be the first mission of the Artemis Generation, and the spacecraft will be lifting off in just a few short months. After several days of getting into position, the CAPSTONE spacecraft will separate from the launch vehicle upper stage and begin its journey to the Moon. CAPSTONE will be launching on a Rocket Lab Electron Rocket. This will be the first mission for Electron beyond Low Earth Orbit and the CAPSTONE spacecraft will be the only payload launched on this flight. The injection accuracy is a critical start to the next phase of the mission.

Transfer

Transfer starts out with a critical 72 hours where the spacecraft will turn on, boot up, get a navigation solution, and execute its first maneuver. This start to the transfer is very important, from this key beginning the transfer to the Moon will leverage a highly efficient transfer that utilizes solar gravity to get to the Moon while requiring very little fuel. The transfer is called a Ballistic Lunar Transfer, from injection by the launch vehicle it will travel to approximately 1.5 million km from the Earth. During the transfer the spacecraft will take images using the on-board camera and will execute several maneuvers to correct for errors and target the orbit insertion at the Moon. This transfer approach has been used by spacecraft in the past and is likely to be used by many missions in the future. Advanced Space specializes in these highly dynamic orbit designs and operations which have enabled CAPSTONE and will support future programs as well.

NRHO

The target orbit at the Moon for CAPSTONE is the Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit (NRHO). Entering into this orbit will require a critical maneuver from the spacecraft. A critical maneuver means that it must be executed and there is very little margin for error. The NRHO is the destination for NASA’s Lunar Gateway. This unique orbit has many beneficial attributes to support sustainable architectures for exploring, developing, and settling the Moon. This orbit requires a small maneuver about once every week. While in this orbit the CAPSTONE spacecraft and the team at Advanced Space will be demonstrating operational performance and confirming simulations to support future NASA utilization for the Gateway and other exploration elements.

Crosslink

Demonstrating enabling technologies for future cislunar exploration and development is a top objective for the CAPSTONE mission. Throughout the mission, the spacecraft will be demonstrating foundational capabilities for new technologies. Specifically the mission will mature the flight software for the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System (CAPS). The mission will also be working closely with the NASA operations team for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) to demonstrate a first-of-its-kind crosslink. This operation will see CAPSTONE send a signal to LRO and for LRO to return it to CAPSTONE where it will be turned into a measurement and used in the CAPS software to determine the location of both spacecraft. This navigation approach will be the key to the future of cislunar operations where many more spacecraft will be operating at the Moon.

Beyond

The future of humanity is in the stars, and though none of us can begin to guess what that future will look like in the end we can start to plan the pieces that will enable it. After the CAPSTONE demonstration of the NRHO and the CAPS capability, there is plenty of potential for continued development. Whether that is in support of additional missions flying to the Moon or providing a navigation node to surface operations, the versatility of the CAPSTONE satellite offers a variety of paths forward to further our exploration of the Moon and beyond.

 

Development

From an idea to a pitch to a signed contract, CAPSTONE was funded by NASA in mid 2019. From there, the clock was ticking – while the average mission can take years to design, develop, manufacture, and launch, CAPSTONE is going at a breakneck pace from contract to launch readiness. This is possible through dedicated efforts from Advanced Space, close collaboration with customers and suppliers, and a laser focus on the core drivers of schedule and capabilities.  The rapid program benefits from exhaustive investment from NASA and commercial investment from key suppliers.

Launch

Launching in 2021, CAPSTONE will be the first mission of the Artemis Generation, and the spacecraft will be lifting off in just a few short months. After several days of getting into position, the CAPSTONE spacecraft will separate from the launch vehicle upper stage and begin its journey to the Moon. CAPSTONE will be launching on a Rocket Lab Electron Rocket. This will be the first mission for Electron beyond Low Earth Orbit and the CAPSTONE spacecraft will be the only payload launched on this flight. The injection accuracy is a critical start to the next phase of the mission.

Transfer

Transfer starts out with a critical 72 hours where the spacecraft will turn on, boot up, get a navigation solution, and execute its first maneuver. This start to the transfer is very important, from this key beginning the transfer to the Moon will leverage a highly efficient trajectory that utilizes solar gravity to get to the Moon while requiring very little fuel. The transfer is called a Ballistic Lunar Transfer, from injection by the launch vehicle it will travel to approximately 1.5 million km from the Earth. During the transfer the spacecraft will take images using the on-board camera and will execute several maneuvers to correct for errors and target a precise orbit insertion at the Moon. This transfer approach has been used by spacecraft in the past and is likely to be used by many missions in the future. Advanced Space specializes in these highly dynamic orbit designs and operations which have enabled CAPSTONE and will support future programs as well.

 

NRHO

The target orbit at the Moon for CAPSTONE is a Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit (NRHO). Entering into this orbit will require a critical maneuver from the spacecraft. A critical maneuver means that it must be executed to achieve lunar orbit and there is very little margin for error. The same NRHO is the destination for NASA’s Lunar Gateway. This unique orbit has many beneficial attributes to support sustainable architectures for exploring, developing, and settling the Moon. NRHOs are only marginally stable, so CAPSTONE will perform a small stationkeeping maneuver about once every week. While in this orbit the CAPSTONE spacecraft and the team at Advanced Space will be demonstrating operational performance and confirming simulations to support future NASA utilization for the Gateway and other exploration elements.

 

Crosslink

Demonstrating enabling technologies for future cislunar exploration and development is a top objective for the CAPSTONE mission. Throughout the mission, the spacecraft will be demonstrating foundational capabilities for new technologies. Specifically the mission will mature the flight software for the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System (CAPS). The mission will also be working closely with the NASA operations team for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) to demonstrate a first-of-its-kind crosslink. This crosslink demonstration will see CAPSTONE send a ranging signal to LRO and for LRO to return it to CAPSTONE where it will be turned into a radiometric measurement and used in the CAPS software onboard to estimate the state of both spacecraft. This navigation approach will be the key to the future of cislunar operations where many more spacecraft will be operating at the Moon.

 

Beyond

The future of humanity is in the stars, and though none of us can begin to guess what that future will look like in the end we can start to place the pieces that will enable it. After the CAPSTONE demonstration of operating in an NRHO and capabilities of CAPS, there is plenty of potential for continued development. Whether that is in support of additional missions flying to the Moon or providing a navigation node to surface operations, the versatility of the CAPSTONE satellite offers a variety of paths forward to further our exploration of the Moon and beyond.

 

Advanced Space

Leading CAPSTONE from concept to end-of-life, this is different from most other missions where NASA is responsible for the spacecraft – here Advanced Space is the owner and operator of this satellite for the entirety of its mission. Our team designed the mission orbits, oversaw the design and manufacture of the hardware, and will be performing flight dynamics operations on-site in our Colorado offices.

NASA

CAPSTONE is supported by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate through the Small Spacecraft Technology program and by the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate through the Advanced Exploration Systems program. CAPS is supported by NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

Key Partners

Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems: Based in California, Tyvak has been the manufacturing partner in drafting and executing the hardware that will fly CAPSTONE. Along with machining the satellite bus, they will also be responsible for the assembly and testing of the subsystems that are going into the spacecraft.

Stellar Exploration, Inc: CAPSTONE’s propulsion system was designed, tested, and manufactured by Stellar Exploration, Inc. also located in California. Their system that will be used in the spacecraft was initially supported by NASA’s SBIR program just as the CAPS program was supported.

Rocket Lab: Providing the launch services for CAPSTONE, Rocket Lab will be flying the satellite on a dedicated Electron flight to put it on the path for the mission’s Ballistic Lunar Transfer that will send CAPSTONE towards the Moon to execute its insertion into the NRHO mission orbit.

Advanced Space Logo

Advanced Space

Leading CAPSTONE from concept to end-of-life, this is different from most other missions where NASA is responsible for the spacecraft – here Advanced Space is the owner and operator of this satellite for the entirety of its mission. Our team designed the mission orbits, oversaw the design and manufacture of the hardware, and will be performing flight dynamics operations on-site in our Colorado offices.

NASA

CAPSTONE is supported by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate through the Small Spacecraft Technology program and by the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate through the Advanced Exploration Systems program. CAPS is supported by NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

Key Partners

Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems: Based in California, Tyvak has been the manufacturing partner in drafting and executing the hardware that will fly CAPSTONE. Along with machining the satellite bus, they will also be responsible for the assembly and testing of the subsystems that are going into the spacecraft.

Stellar Exploration, Inc: CAPSTONE’s propulsion system was designed, tested, and manufactured by Stellar Exploration, Inc. also located in California. Their system that will be used in the spacecraft was initially supported by NASA’s SBIR program just as the CAPS program was supported.

Rocket Lab: Providing the launch services for CAPSTONE, Rocket Lab will be flying the satellite on a dedicated Electron flight to put it on the path for the mission’s Ballistic Lunar Transfer that will send CAPSTONE towards the Moon to execute its insertion into the NRHO mission orbit.

A Story in a Patch

The mission patch is a snapshot of CAPSTONE’s daily life at the Moon with details that thread its story through past, present, and future.

  • The Past: Nodding to the Apollo patches of the past, the stars were one way of honoring those in the program who were lost but not forgotten. Our stars represent the late Dr. George Born and Darrell D. Cain, both of whom were foundational to Advanced Space’s technical expertise and core beliefs.
  • The Present: The orbit that CAPSTONE will be traversing is integral to the Artemis program and by being the first craft to navigate this NRHO, CAPSTONE will provide the necessary experience to go beyond where we have already been. The extension of the orbit beyond the confines of the patch represents the pathfinder nature of the mission. The location markers on the spacecraft and above the Moon represent the the technology demonstration of CAPS.
  • The Future: Just as the Artemis program describes the Moon as the pathway to Mars, we too see a future at Mars enabled by the technology demonstrated during the CAPSTONE mission. And so in the not-so-distant future we put Mars on the horizon for the next giant leap, as seen in the red point among the stars.

A Collaborative Effort

With this mission being a coordinated effort between commercial and public interests, we wanted a representation of that collaboration through the logo. The result is a harmonious joining of two brands into a singular idea.
U

The Details

  • The central A is the Artemis arrow tip
  • The orbit is from the Advanced Space logo
  • The inner red path points the future journey to Mars
  • The Moon element references the Artemis program logo
  • Pieces of the Artemis typography included in the CAPSTONE title, bringing it back to the intertwined nature of this mission and the Artemis program.

A Story in a Patch

The mission patch is a snapshot of CAPSTONE’s daily life at the Moon with details that thread its story through past, present, and future.

  • The Past: Nodding to the Apollo patches of the past, the stars were one way of honoring those in the program who were lost but not forgotten. Our stars represent the late Dr. George Born and Darrell D. Cain, both of whom were foundational to Advanced Space’s technical expertise and core beliefs.
  • The Present: The orbit that CAPSTONE will be traversing is integral to the Artemis program and by being the first craft to navigate this NRHO, CAPSTONE will provide the necessary experience to go beyond where we have already been. The extension of the orbit beyond the confines of the patch represents the pathfinder nature of the mission. The location markers on the spacecraft and above the Moon represent the the technology demonstration of CAPS.
  • The Future: Just as the Artemis program describes the Moon as the pathway to Mars, we too see a future at Mars enabled by the technology demonstrated during the CAPSTONE mission. And so in the not-so-distant future we put Mars on the horizon for the next giant leap, as seen in the red point among the stars.

A Collaborative Effort

With this mission being a coordinated effort between commercial and public interests, we wanted a representation of that collaboration through the logo. The result is a harmonious joining of two brands into a singular idea.

U

The Details

  • The central A is the Artemis arrow tip
  • The orbit is from the Advanced Space logo
  • The inner red path points the future journey to Mars
  • The Moon element references the Artemis program logo
  • Pieces of the Artemis typography included in the CAPSTONE title, bringing it back to the intertwined nature of this mission and the Artemis program.

A Story in a Patch

The mission patch is a snapshot of CAPSTONE’s daily life at the Moon with details that thread its story through past, present, and future.

  • The Past: Nodding to the Apollo patches of the past, the stars were one way of honoring those in the program who were lost but not forgotten. Our stars represent the late Dr. George Born and Darrell D. Cain, both of whom were foundational to Advanced Space’s technical expertise and core beliefs.
  • The Present: The orbit that CAPSTONE will be traversing is integral to the Artemis program and by being the first craft to navigate this NRHO, CAPSTONE will provide the necessary experience to go beyond where we have already been. The extension of the orbit beyond the confines of the patch represents the pathfinder nature of the mission. The location markers on the spacecraft and above the Moon represent the the technology demonstration of CAPS.
  • The Future: Just as the Artemis program describes the Moon as the pathway to Mars, we too see a future at Mars enabled by the technology demonstrated during the CAPSTONE mission. And so in the not-so-distant future we put Mars on the horizon for the next giant leap, as seen in the red point among the stars.

A Collaborative Effort

With this mission being a coordinated effort between commercial and public interests, we wanted a representation of that collaboration through the logo. The result is a harmonious joining of two brands into a singular idea.

U

The Details

  • The central A is the Artemis arrow tip
  • The orbit is from the Advanced Space logo
  • The inner red path points the future journey to Mars
  • The Moon element references the Artemis program logo
  • Pieces of the Artemis typography included in the CAPSTONE title, bringing it back to the intertwined nature of this mission and the Artemis program.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most common questions that come up when describing the CAPSTONE mission. Still can’t find an answer to a question you really want to ask? Reach out to us via email at:

CAPSTONE @ advancedspace.com

What is CAPS?

CAPS stands for ‘Cislunar Autonomous Position System’! It provides position and speed information to other spacecraft which are flying close to the Moon, similar to how a smartphone uses signals from multiple GPS satellites to determine its exact location on Earth. Currently, there is no standard way to determine a spacecraft’s position at the Moon without relying on Earth-based measurements. While this not a problem when there are only a handful of missions happening at any given moment in time, the Moon is going to be getting a lot busier in the near future and there aren’t a lot of options available for phoning home from the Moon. CAPS is aiming to reduce that pressure on ground systems by enabling spacecraft to keep in touch with one another and allow them to keep track of their positions without needing to check back in with Earth constantly.

What are the objectives of the CAPSTONE mission?

CAPSTONE’s primary mission is to pioneer a new and challenging lunar orbit in order to help inform future operations for NASA’s new lunar space station and the rest of the ARTEMIS program. The secondary objective is to test the CAPS technology which will enable navigation services for the Moon using 1 to 2 satellites instead of using 20+ satellites for Earth based GPS. Also several Commercial and Civil spacecraft are expected to arrive at the Moon in the next few years. However, there are only a few massive dishes that have the signal strength to reach the Moon. CAPS will reduce the amount of calls that need to be sent back home to Earth.

Why is CAPSTONE using a Ballistic Lunar Transfer (BLT)?

The fuel required for a spacecraft to  insert into lunar orbit from a BLT is much less than a standard lunar transfer. From a design standpoint, this means that the spacecraft can carry less fuel, deliver heavier payloads, and have a simpler propulsion system. Demonstrating a BLT as a viable way to arrive and enter the very specific Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit (NRHO) will be beneficial for large future missions that will need to be delivered to the Moon in preparation of the Lunar Gateway.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most common questions that come up when describing the CAPSTONE mission. Still can’t find an answer to a question you really want to ask? Reach out to us via email at:

CAPSTONE @ advancedspace.com

What is CAPS?

CAPS stands for ‘Cislunar Autonomous Position System’! It provides position and speed information to other spacecraft which are flying close to the Moon, similar to how a smartphone uses signals from multiple GPS satellites to determine its exact location on Earth. Currently, there is no standard way to determine a spacecraft’s position at the Moon without relying on Earth-based measurements. While this not a problem when there are only a handful of missions happening at any given moment in time, the Moon is going to be getting a lot busier in the near future and there aren’t a lot of options available for phoning home from the Moon. CAPS is aiming to reduce that pressure on ground systems by enabling spacecraft to keep in touch with one another and allow them to keep track of their positions without needing to check back in with Earth constantly.

What are the objectives of the CAPSTONE mission?

CAPSTONE’s primary mission is to pioneer a new and challenging lunar orbit in order to help inform future operations for NASA’s new lunar space station and the rest of the ARTEMIS program. The secondary objective is to test the CAPS technology which will enable navigation services for the Moon using 1 to 2 satellites instead of using 20+ satellites for Earth based GPS. Also several Commercial and Civil spacecraft are expected to arrive at the Moon in the next few years. However, there are only a few massive dishes that have the signal strength to reach the Moon. CAPS will reduce the amount of calls that need to be sent back home to Earth.

Why is CAPSTONE using a Ballistic Lunar Transfer (BLT)?

The fuel required for a spacecraft to  insert into lunar orbit from a BLT is much less than a standard lunar transfer. From a design standpoint, this means that the spacecraft can carry less fuel, deliver heavier payloads, and have a simpler propulsion system. Demonstrating a BLT as a viable way to arrive and enter the very specific Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit (NRHO) will be beneficial for large future missions that will need to be delivered to the Moon in preparation of the Lunar Gateway.

The Role of the Pathfinder

“[The purpose of flight research] is to separate the real from the imagined problems and to make known the overlooked and the unexpected.”

- Hugh L. Dryden

NASA Deputy Administrator 1958-1965

Experience is earned by the number of iterations completed, not the number of years spent.

- Chris Baker

Space Technology Mission Directorate, NASA HQ

The Role of the Pathfinder

“[The purpose of flight research] is to separate the real from the imagined problems and to make known the overlooked and the unexpected.”

- Hugh L. Dryden

NASA Deputy Administrator 1958-1965

Experience is earned by the number of iterations completed, not the number of years spent.

- Chris Baker

Space Technology Mission Directorate, NASA HQ

The Role of the Pathfinder

“[The purpose of flight research] is to separate the real from the imagined problems and to make known the overlooked and the unexpected.”

- Hugh L. Dryden

NASA Deputy Administrator 1958-1965

Experience is earned by the number of iterations completed, not the number of years spent.

- Chris Baker

Space Technology Mission Directorate, NASA HQ

News From NASA

The Return to the Moon

With the Artemis program, NASA will land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024, using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before. We will collaborate with our commercial and international partners and establish sustainable exploration by the end of the decade. Then, we will use what we learn on and around the Moon to take the next giant leap – sending astronauts to Mars.

What is CAPSTONE?

A microwave oven–sized CubeSat weighing just 55 pounds will serve as the first spacecraft to test a unique, elliptical lunar orbit as part of NASA’s Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE). As a precursor for Gateway, a Moon-orbiting outpost that is part of NASA’s Artemis program, CAPSTONE will help reduce risk for future spacecraft by validating innovative navigation technologies and verifying the dynamics of this halo-shaped orbit.

Innovative Propulsion System Gets Ready to Help Study Moon Orbit for Artemis

CAPSTONE’s propulsion system is designed and built by Stellar Exploration Inc. of San Luis Obispo, California. Initially funded by NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research program, the system is approximately 8-inches square by 4-inches deep. The system’s eight thrusters are fed hydrazine propellant from an unpressurized tank. CAPSTONE’s super small, high-performance thrusters integrate proven NASA technology with state-of-the-art industry fabrication techniques.

News From NASA

The Return to the Moon

With the Artemis program, NASA will land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024, using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before. We will collaborate with our commercial and international partners and establish sustainable exploration by the end of the decade. Then, we will use what we learn on and around the Moon to take the next giant leap – sending astronauts to Mars.

What is CAPSTONE?

A microwave oven–sized CubeSat weighing just 55 pounds will serve as the first spacecraft to test a unique, elliptical lunar orbit as part of NASA’s Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE). As a precursor for Gateway, a Moon-orbiting outpost that is part of NASA’s Artemis program, CAPSTONE will help reduce risk for future spacecraft by validating innovative navigation technologies and verifying the dynamics of this halo-shaped orbit.

Innovative Propulsion System Gets Ready to Help Study Moon Orbit for Artemis

CAPSTONE’s propulsion system is designed and built by Stellar Exploration Inc. of San Luis Obispo, California. Initially funded by NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research program, the system is approximately 8-inches square by 4-inches deep. The system’s eight thrusters are fed hydrazine propellant from an unpressurized tank. CAPSTONE’s super small, high-performance thrusters integrate proven NASA technology with state-of-the-art industry fabrication techniques.

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