Updated July 6th, 11:45 AM ET: On Wednesday morning, NASA announced the mission team Reconnected with CAPSTONE. Our main story is about the telecommunications blackout that occurred after the spacecraft split. The following continues.
NASA is having trouble establishing contact with its new CAPSTONE spacecraft, a small probe launched from Earth to test a new orbit around the moon. Because of these communication issues, NASA had to delay the planned launch of the spacecraft to help improve its path to deep space. The agency is still trying to rebuild the relationship.
Capstone is the first mission of NASA’s Artemis program, the agency’s effort to eventually send humans back to the moon. As part of the moon’s return, NASA plans to build a new space station in lunar orbit. But the orbit that NASA wants to use is unique. This is a particularly long journey that has never been used by a spacecraft before. CAPSTONE is intended to serve as a navigation mission, to launch spacecraft into its orbit and to give NASA some operational experience before the agency begins building its new station.
In the size of a microwave oven, CAPSTONE was launched from New Zealand on June 28 by the space company’s Rocket Laboratory on the head of a small electron rocket. CAPSTONE To put extra pressure on the moon, the rocket lab used a special booster called a photon, which remained attached to the satellite after the initial launch and periodically elevated the satellite’s orbit. Capstone finally separated from Photon on July 4, and in the first 11 hours after the separation, it seems to be working well, according to Advanced Space, which builds and operates the spacecraft. CAPSTONE installed its solar panels and started charging the battery.
The mission team was able to target CAPSTONE on Earth and establish a connection to one of the vessels in NASA’s deep space network, a series of ground-based telescopes around the world operated by a manned space satellite. Used for conversation. CAPSTONE was able to contact a telescope in Madrid, Spain, which allowed the team to begin satellite observations and provide vehicles for their next exercise to change course, scheduled for July 5th.
But, according to NASA, the satellite started having communication problems when it was in contact with another telescope in the deep space network – this is in Goldstone, California. Advanced space accused the issue of “disorder” in the telecommunications subsystem. As a result, the July 5 exercise was postponed while the team was trying to establish contact with the spacecraft. This maneuver is the first in a planned series of similar adjustments that CAPSTONE will perform on its way to the moon.
Finally, Advanced Location says CAPSTONE can handle delays. Spacecraft take a particularly long way to reach the moon, which takes about four months. This is a way that is particularly effective for fuel but is also time consuming. Advanced Space says the path also gives the team time to fully understand the problem and find a solution before running.
At the time CAPSTONE Did Once contacted, the mission team was able to determine the location and speed of the spacecraft in space. Right now, Capstone is about 177,000 miles (285,000 kilometers) from Earth. Engineers have also been able to stabilize spacecraft, and they are doing everything they can to solve the communications problem. “The CAPSTONE mission team is working around the clock and during the holiday week to support this important mission,” Advanced Space wrote in its update.
Now, CAPSTONE is just waiting in space as the teams desperately try to rebuild the contact. NASA says it will provide updates when they are available.