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CAPSTONE successfully enters NRHO around the Moon

Credit: Terran Orbital

Edinburgh / Boca Raton, Florida, 15 November 2022. – The Terran Orbital-developed CAPSTONE (Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment) spacecraft successfully arrived in a Near-Rectilinear Halo Orbit (NRHO) around the Moon, the satellite product manufacturer said. The successful orbit insertion is the first step of the pathfinding lunar mission’s next phase.

CAPSTONE was designed, built, and integrated by Terran Orbital, led by Advanced Space and launched aboard Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket in June. Shared spacecraft operations are carried out between Terran Orbital and Advanced Space for NASA.

The pathfinder mission aims to provide rapid and low-cost data with regards to operations in lunar NRHO. The data will be used for the Moon-orbiting Gateway space station, which is planned to be inserted in the same orbit. Gateway will provide astronauts access to the lunar surface to support NASA’s Artemis missions.

CAPSTONE features a compact, low power, and robust system design of Terran Orbital’s MRKII avionics, enabling the 12U interplanetary platform. The Advanced Space-developed CAPS software will help reduce ground station congestion, Terran said.

LunIR (Lunar Infrared Imaging), the Artemis-supporting 6U cubesat due to perform a lunar flyby, was also developed by Terran. While CAPSTONE created a map to the Moon, LunIR will create a map of the Moon.

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