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CAPSTONE: Testing a Path to the Moon

CAPSTONE: Testing a Path to the Moon

CAPSTONE: Testing a Path to the Moon

CAPSTONE: Testing a Path to the Moon

Before NASA’s Artemis astronauts head to the Moon, a microwave oven-sized spacecraft will help lead the way. The Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, or CAPSTONE, is a CubeSat mission set to launch in spring of 2022. For at least six months, the small spacecraft will fly a unique elongated path around the Moon. Its trajectory—known as a near rectilinear halo orbit—has never been flown before! Once tried and tested, the same orbit will be home to NASA’s future lunar space station Gateway. Here are five things to know:

1. The 55-pound (25 kg) spacecraft is equipped with solar arrays, a camera, and antennae for communication and navigation.

CAPSTONE: Testing a Path to the Moon

2. Powerful thrusters will help propel the CubeSat toward the Moon.

CAPSTONE: Testing a Path to the Moon

3. CAPSTONE will fly a unique elongated path around the Moon for at least six months.

CAPSTONE: Testing a Path to the Moon

4. At its closest approach, it will come within 2,100 miles (3,380 km) of the Moon’s North Pole.

CAPSTONE: Testing a Path to the Moon

5. The same orbit will be home to Gateway— our future outpost for Artemis astronauts heading to the Moon and beyond.

CAPSTONE: Testing a Path to the Moon

CAPSTONE is commercially owned and operated by Advanced Space in Westminster, Colorado. NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology program within the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate funds the demonstration mission. The program is based at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. The development of CAPSTONE’s navigation technology is supported by NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer program. The Artemis Campaign Development Division within NASA’s Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate funds the launch and supports mission operations. The Launch Services Program at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida manages the launch.

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