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...

5 comments

  1. Man I would LOVE to be a fly on the wall on the design and programming of these things. Imagine the data paths and redundancy that has to exist for even troubleshooting let alone actually solving problems for a object in space with no humans or hands near by for Millions of miles.

    I want NASA engineers to build a refrigerator and home AC unit designed with that kind of resiliency.
  2. You get what you pay for. The part that sucks is that if they would take the same margin for the better part, you’d probably only pay 1500 - but they have to make sure they really screw you on the high end.
  3. You get what you pay for. The part that sucks is that if they would take the same margin for the better part, you’d probably only pay 1500 - but they have to make sure they really screw you on the high end.
    The biggest part of that cost is recouping the engineering and design / R&D. And that subsidizes the lower end products as that work trickles down to them. That isn't all of it - a good bit is margin, but you gotta make some money in order to keep the company going. It takes a whole lot of failures to come up with a version that works well enough to compete.

    I like to point at Dyson as a good example: I have no idea how long it came to come up with the design of their first hand-held vacuum. But I'm sure it took a while. Now they just kinda iterate on that design, trying to bring efficiency up and costs down. But dozens of other companies see what they did, copy that design for much much less than it took Dyson to develop it and bring it to market - and Dyson has to compete with that somehow. Dyson chose to compete on quality rather than slash margins: they have a premium product, they have premium tech support, and it seems to be working for them - but it doesn't work for every innovative company.

    It's easy to make money if your a Chinese company and you just "borrow" the design from whatever foreign company has contracted your factory to mass produce the product, and you know exactly where you can cut corners in order to bring production costs down even further. No R&D at all to fund there.

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