On Tuesday July 5, NASA announced that it had lost contact with CAPSTONE. A few hours later, the American space agency managed to re-establish contact. Everything is in order and CAPSTONE continues its trajectory towards the Moon.
NASA believed that contact was definitely lost
The launch of this satellite, operated by Rocket Lab in partnership with NASA, took place a few days ago from the United States. It is a modest step, but essential for preparing for the return of humans to the Moon as part of the Artemis mission. The CAPSTONE satellite aims to prepare the ground for the astronauts who will arrive in a few years. The spacecraft must test a new orbit around the Moon. NASA believed that contact was definitely lost.
On July 5, the space agency even said that because of these communication problems, “a maneuver that was supposed to allow refining its trajectory towards space could not take place”. Communications with the spacecraft were scrambled when it was in contact with a telescope from the Deep Space Network, located in Goldstone, in California. NASA attributed this problem to a “anomaly in the communication subsystem”. Consequently, the July 5 maneuver was postponed.
CAPSTONE continues its trajectory towards the Moon
An acceptable delay according to the American space agency. Either way, the spacecraft has to make a particularly long journey to get to the Moon. A journey of about four months particularly fuel-efficient (thanks to solar panels and on-board batteries), but on the other hand takes much longer. NASA would also like to fully understand the problem and find a solution before proceeding with the maneuver. Currently, CAPSTONE is approximately 285,000 kilometers from Earth.
NASA engineers have managed to stabilize the spacecraft and are doing everything possible to solve the communication problem. CAPSTONE is the first mission of the Artemis program from NASA. This aims to send humans to the moon again. The objective of this satellite is to analyze a new lunar orbit which has never really been used by a spacecraft before. An exploratory mission, before starting the construction of a lunar station.