NASA’s Capstone Cubes, launched last week by Rocket Lab on an Electron rocket, have exited Earth orbit and are headed for the Moon. The satellite was supposed to reach the moon by November.
missile It was launched on June 28 from the Rocket Labs launch site in New Zealand† During the past six days, the missile has performed several ignition maneuvers. The last of these had to send the rocket stage with the 25 kg satellite on board toward the moon, and it worked. “It is a project that took us about two and a half years and is very difficult to implement,” Peter Beck, CEO of Rocket Lab, told The Associated Press† “So seeing the spacecraft on its way to the moon is pretty amazing.”
NASA wants to put a space station into orbit around the Moon as part of the Artemis mission. This space station, the Lunar Gateway, should eventually become the base for manned missions to the lunar surface. This is why Capstone is an important first step. It is sent into the Halo orbit near the rectum; This is the same elliptical orbit around the Moon where the Lunar Gate will eventually fly. No spacecraft has ever entered this orbit. If the rest of the mission is successful, the Capstone satellite will send important information about orbit for months, such as how much fuel the spacecraft needs to stay in that orbit.
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