NASA Reestablishes Communication with CAPSTONE Satellite after Brief Blackout

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Image: NASA

NASA has reestablished contact with its Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) CubeSat after it went silent on July 4. CAPSTONE launched on June 28th, and following its multistage deployment, began its four-month journey to the moon on July 4. CAPSTONE’s mission is to provide data from its near rectilinear halo orbit (NRHO) around the moon, which NASA will use to plan the orbit for its Gateway space station. Gateway will be used for the lunar exploration Artemis Program.

Update 1

Following successful deployment and start of spacecraft commissioning on July 4, the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) spacecraft experienced communications issues while in contact with the Deep Space Network. The spacecraft team currently is working to understand the cause and re-establish contact. The team has good trajectory data for the spacecraft based on the first full and second partial ground station pass with the Deep Space Network. If needed, the mission has enough fuel to delay the initial post separation trajectory correction maneuver for several days. Additional updates will be provided as soon as possible.

Image: NASA

Update 2

NASA’s Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) experienced communications issues following its deployment on July 4. This is an update on the spacecraft health and efforts to regain contact between CAPSTONE and NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN).  

Following CAPSTONE’s initial deployment on July 4, the spacecraft successfully deployed solar arrays, was stabilized, and began charging its onboard battery. CAPSTONE’s propulsion system was also readied for the spacecraft’s first maneuver.  CAPSTONE made initial contact with the DSN ground station in Madrid, Spain, followed by a partial contact with the Goldstone ground station in California. From these contacts, mission operators have been able to determine CAPSTONE’s approximate position and velocity in space.  

As a result of the communications issues, CAPSTONE’s first trajectory correction maneuver – originally scheduled for the morning of July 5 – has been delayed. This maneuver is the first in a series that are designed to make small corrections to increase the accuracy of the transfer orbit to the Moon, and the spacecraft remains on the overall intended ballistic lunar transfer while awaiting this trajectory correction.  

Teams are working to resolve CAPSTONE’s communications issues.  

Source: NASA (1, 2, 3)

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Peter Brosdahl
As a child of the 70’s I was part of the many who became enthralled by the video arcade invasion of the 1980’s. Saving money from various odd jobs I purchased my first computer from a friend of my dad, a used Atari 400, around 1982. Eventually it would end up being a lifelong passion of upgrading and modifying equipment that, of course, led into a career in IT support.

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