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A small NASA-funded spacecraft launched from New Zealand on Tuesday, launching a spacecraft reunification program in a few years. The spacecraft, called CAPSTONE, is about the size of a microwave oven. It will learn about a particular route when NASA plans to build a small space station so that astronauts can stop before and after going to the moon.
At 9:55 pm local time (5:55 a.m. Eastern time), a 59-foot-long rocket carrying CAPSTONE took off from the launch site off the east coast of New Zealand. Although the campaign collects NASA data, it is owned and operated by an independent company, Advanced Space, based in Westminster, Colorado.
For a spacecraft, CAPSTONE is inexpensive, costing just under $ 30 million, including the launch of Rocket Lab, a US-New Zealand company.
The first two phases of the Electron rocket place CAPSTONE on an elliptical line orbiting the Earth. In this project, the Rocket Lab has actually added a third phase that will raise the altitude of the spacecraft in the next six days. At that point, CAPSTONE will head to the moon, taking a slow but effective route, arriving on November 13th.
The full name of these machines is the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment. In Artemis, NASA’s astrological system, NASA decided to install Gateway, a small space station orbiting the moon. That would make it easier for astronauts to reach many parts of the moon. This outdoor center will be located in what is known as the near-rectilinear halo orbit.
Halo orbits are those that are influenced by gravity in two bodies – in this case, the Earth and the moon. The impact of these two bodies helps to stabilize the orbit, reducing the amount of propellant needed to keep the spacecraft orbit around the moon.
The interaction of gravity and keeps the orbit almost 90 degrees at the beam line from Earth. (This is the part of the word that is closest to the rectilinear.) Thus, the spacecraft on this route never passes after a month, when communication would be cut off.
The Gateway trail reaches about 2,200 miles from the north pole and backs 44,000 miles as it passes through the south pole. The journey around the moon will take about a week.
No spacecraft has ever sailed this route. Therefore, CAPSTONE will provide data to NASA to verify its statistical models using its Gateway out of a near-rectilinear halo orbit.
A day-long photo courtesy of Rocket Lab, a U.S.-New Zealand company, shows a Photon Lunar spacecraft bus connected to the second phase of the Electron rocket before the launch of CAPSTONE. The small spacecraft CAPSTONE will be the first to launch the month of the year when other scheduled programs have not yet been released from the launchpad. (Rocket Lab by New York Times)
NASA has not designed or built CAPSTONE, nor will it use it. The spacecraft owns it and will be owned by Advanced Space, a company with 45 employees just outside Denver. Advanced Space has actually purchased a 55-pound satellite, the size of a microwave oven at another company, Terran Orbital.
They were also introduced by SpaceX or any of NASA’s other major aerospace contractors, but Rocket Lab, a US-New Zealand company that specializes in delivering small payloads to orbit. The company has its own launch site on the North Island of New Zealand for its Electron rockets.
NASA has spent nearly $ 20 million on its Advanced Space and used a spacecraft and less than $ 10 million to launch Rocket Lab.
A small NASA-funded spacecraft launched from New Zealand on Tuesday, launching a spacecraft reunification program in a few years.
After a month, these machines will last for six months, with the potential to extend for another year or more.
Its main function is to determine the best way to stay in the orbit you want. By measuring how long it takes for the radio signals to move back and forth on Earth, the spacecraft rotates in its orbit, and then moves away when it exits.
This may take a test or error because no spacecraft has ever traveled this route before, and apart from the lunar system, the uncertainty in the spacecraft at any time is great.
CAPSTONE will also explore another way to find its place in collaboration with other spacecraft orbiting the moon. Advanced Space has been developing this technology for more than seven years, and will now test the concept with CAPSTONE sending signals back and forth via NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
The big launch of the month expected this year is Artemis 1, the first major exploration aircraft for NASA’s spacecraft programs. By the end of August, NASA could launch a large rocket, the Space Launch System, which would carry the astronaut capsule, Orion. The capsule will travel around the moon and return to Earth without the atmosphere.
And in August, South Korea could launch the Korean Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter. The spacecraft would be the first planetary visitor to the moon and would study the elements of the lunar eclipse using various scientific tools.
Some of the activities expected this year are not sure if they will happen. Russia has said it plans to restore the robotic lander to the moon for the first time since 1976. The Japanese company, ispace, aims to transport goods from Japan and various other countries to the moon. Two American companies, Intuitive Machines and Astrobotic, also have the same equipment, as they have been contracted by NASA to transport lunar assets in the same way that SpaceX delivers goods to the International Space Station.
NASA has also awarded SpaceX a major contract to build the next space satellite scanner. With years to go, the company could test Starship’s orbital test aircraft, the spacecraft that would form the basis of that planet.
This article first appeared in the New York Times.