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CAPSTONE Is Launched To The Moon 

On June 28, Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket with the CAPSTONE mission is scheduled to be launched from the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand. The device of the same name will be sent to the Moon to test and confirm theoretical calculations about the near-lunar halo orbit (NRHO), on which they plan to hold the future Gateway space station from NASA.

CAPSTONE is Cislunar Autonomous Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment.

The main task of CAPSTONE is to test and verify the calculated parameters of the orbital orientation of a nearly rectilinear halo orbit around the Moon, the same orbit that is planned for the Gateway. The Gateway is a small space station that will orbit the moon, providing astronauts with access to the lunar surface. The station will house living quarters for astronauts, a laboratory for scientific research, and ports for arriving spacecraft.

This historic lunar exploration mission is supporting NASA’s Artemis program, which will land the first woman and the first person of color on the moon.

Using the Electron rocket and the new Lunar Photon upper stage, Rocket Lab will launch the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) cubesat into a highly efficient orbit to deliver the vehicle to the Moon. CAPSTONE is owned and operated by Advanced Space in Westminster, Colorado for NASA.

CAPSTONE is expected to orbit the Moon for at least six months to understand the characteristics of the orbit. In particular, it will allow to confirm the requirements for the propulsion system to maintain the orbit in accordance with the forecasts of NASA models and gain operating experience, reducing the uncertainty in logistics. It will also showcase innovative navigation solutions, including spacecraft-to-spacecraft navigation and the ability to communicate one-way with ground stations on Earth.

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