6 days after the launch in space, the satellite stopped communicating, which should check the stability of the new space station’s orbit.
On June 28 this year, a new NASA satellite called CAPSTONE went into space to control the orbit of the future lunar space station Gateway according to preliminary calculations by scientists. But on July 4, the satellite stopped communicating with NASA’s Deep Space Communications Network, which is also designed to control spacecraft, reports New Atlas.
The small 25 kg CAPSTONE satellite was successfully launched aboard the Rocket Labs Electron rocket from a launch pad in New Zealand on 28 June. During the 6 days of flight, the third stage of the Elektron rocket, called “Photon”, made 7 motor launches, so that the CAPSTONE satellite would eventually leave low orbit around the earth for a four-month flight to space near the moon. It was after the separation of the satellite from the rocket and the communication with NASA disappeared.
According to NASA, the satellite has enough fuel to simply fly in space for several days before scientists on Earth can fix communication problems and correct its orbit.
The main task of the CAPSTONE satellite, after reaching its destination in circular space, is to check the stability of the previously calculated orbit of the future space station near the moon called the Gateway. To do this, the satellite needs 9 months of flight in space. The orbital station itself is planned to be put into operation at the end of 2024.
So far, the stability of the lunar space station’s orbit has only been tested using computer models. If the satellite confirms that the scientists’ calculations are correct, the new orbital station will become a space station for NASA missions to the moon and even Mars.
Focus already wrote about the launch of the satellite and the benefits that the new Gateway station will have.
Also Focus wrote that NASA’s spacecraft could capture an amazing sight: a solar eclipse, when the moon briefly partially blocked our star.
As already written Focus, the US space agency is looking for ways to get rid of Russia’s dependence on the ISS. So far, it is the Russian cargo ship that provides a stable orbit for the station. But NASA used another spacecraft to correct the ISS orbit.
We remind you that former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly said that the Americans will not cooperate with the Russian Federation on future space missions.