NASA launches new moon-leading Capstone satellite
New Zealand: NASA has launched a small microwave wool satellite to explore a new orbit to the moon in the future.
Named the “Capstone”, it appears to be a cube set and part of NASA’s larger Artemis mission to return to the moon. Capstones, orbiting the moon, are currently orbiting in lower Earth orbit and will return to lunar orbit four months later.
It was launched from New Zealand in a rocket called Electron. Six days later, the thrusters on it will burn and take it out of low Earth orbit (LO Earth Orbit or LEO) to the moon.
Research on the new orbit of the moon
Capstone’s main goal is to reach a long elliptical orbit, the Nerrectelinear Hello Orbit (NRHO). Here it will orbit the moon in a complex orbit and will be closer to 1000 miles from the lunar North Pole and 43500 miles away from the South Pole. In this way, it will complete one cycle around the moon in six and a half days and will observe this orbit for 6 consecutive months.
Capstone will keep track of the amount of fuel in orbit, details of essential supplies and other important information that will pave the way for the manned mission to the moon, Artemis.