NASA launched a small probe to the moon. The tiny satellite paved the way for humanity’s largest manned space project to date.
NASA wants to set up a space station on the Moon before the end of this decade – and now a small satellite is testing its orbit. The probe called “Capstone” (Cislunar’s Autonomous GPS Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment) was launched aboard a Rocket Lab “Electron” rocket from a spaceport in New Zealand, NASA announced.
“We are pleased with the successful launch of the mission and are excited to see what the Capstone will do once it reaches the Moon,” said Jim Reuter of NASA. Over the next six days, the satellite will be accelerated through low Earth orbit in order to be placed in a ballistic transfer orbit to the Moon.
Capstone will be on the road for about four months
Then, Capstone will use its own thrust and the Sun’s gravity to complete the rest of the way. In about four months, the satellite, about the size of a shoebox, will reach the moon and orbit it for at least six months in exactly the same orbit also planned for the Gateway space station.
The space station, in which ESA also participates, is intended to serve as an intermediate station for manned missions to the Moon – and possibly also as a station for missions to Mars. “Capstone” aims to pre-rule out potential risks to the plant.
According to NASA, this is the first rocket to make such an orbit around the Moon. There, Capstone will fly within 1,000 miles (about 1,609 km) of Earth’s satellite north pole during the closest flight to the Moon and will be approximately 43,500 miles (about 70,006 km) from the south pole at its location. Farthest flight. According to NASA, this cycle repeats every six and a half days.
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