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Posts Tagged ‘CAPSTONE’

06/10/2022 – Ephemeris – The first Artemis mission: CAPSTONE

June 10, 2022 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Friday, June 10th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 30 minutes, setting at 9:27, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:56. The Moon, 3 days past first quarter, will set at 3:52 tomorrow morning.

Launching, perhaps, as soon a Monday is the CAPSTONE Mission, which is part of the Artemis program to send the next man and first woman to the Moon. The Capstone mission is to check out the special near rectilinear halo orbit the Lunar Gateway space station, and the Human Landing Craft will be in when the Orion spacecraft arrives before landing. CAPSTONE is, of course, an acronym that explains its purpose, to achieve and navigate itself into this near rectilinear halo orbit. CAPSTONE is basically a CubeSat made of 12 4 by 4 inch (12 100 mm by 100 mm) cubes. It will be launched by Rocket Lab from New Zealand on their Electron rocket with their Proton upper stage. It will take 3 months to reach the Moon.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT – 4 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

CAPSTONE spacecraft

Artist’s impression of the CAPSTONE spacecraft at perilune, the closest point in its orbit, over the north pole of the Moon.

CAPSTONE's near rectilinear halo orbit of the Moon

CAPSTONE’s near rectilinear halo orbit of the Moon, which precesses to keep face on to the Earth during the lunar orbit of the Earth.

08/16/2021 – Ephemeris – The first Artemis mission (maybe) – CAPSTONE

August 16, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Monday, August 16th. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 59 minutes, setting at 8:46, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:47. The Moon, 1 day past first quarter, will set at 1:13 tomorrow morning.

Tonight’s Moon is a great one to view with a small telescope. Speaking of the Moon, a company called Rocket Lab will be launching the first Artemis program mission, later this year, in preparation to land crews back on the Moon. They are launching a small CubeSat to orbit the Moon in a Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit which always faces the Earth and never goes behind the Moon. To test whether all the mathematical calculations for the orbit actually work in real life. The satellite is called CAPSTONE (another tortured NASA acronym*). It will be launched from New Zealand, Rocket Lab’s main launch site first into a polar orbit before heading to the lunar orbit, taking several months to get there.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT – 4 hr). They may be different for your location.

* Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment. Told ya. Cislunar space is a spherical volume of space centered on the Earth, whose radius is the Moon’s distance. Beyond that is interplanetary space.

Addendum

Rocket Lab had been planning to launch the CAPSTONE satellite from Wallops Island, Virginia, but approval was taking too long, so they moved the launch to their New Zealand launch site instead.

NASA CAPSTONE pathfinder for gateway orbit

NASA CAPSTONE* pathfinder for gateway orbit is to be launched late this year by Rocket Lab to prove out the near rectilinear orbit for the Lunar Gateway.

10/23/2020 – Ephemeris – What is a Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit?

October 23, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Friday, October 23rd. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 34 minutes, setting at 6:44, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:10. The Moon, at first quarter today, will set at 12:46 tomorrow morning.

When the astronauts of the Artemis program head for a landing on the Moon is as little as four years from now they will meet their lunar landing craft or Lunar Gateway space station with landing craft docked to it before they descend to the Moon. The orbit of the gateway and/or lander is an odd one. It’s called a near rectilinear halo orbit. And uses the motion and gravitational interaction of the Moon and Earth to create an orbit of the Moon which is nearly face-on to the Earth. The vehicles will never pass behind the Moon. The orbit will pass 1,900 miles (3,000 km) above the Moon’s north pole and out to 43,000 miles (70,000 km) above the south pole. It’s called a halo orbit, because as seen from the Earth it appears to trace a halo around the Moon.

The event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

NASA CAPSTONE pathfinder for gateway orbit

NASA CAPSTONE* pathfinder for gateway orbit is to be launched next year by Rocket Lab to prove out the near rectilinear orbit for the Lunar Gateway. The orbit will always be more or less face on to the Earth, so it and the lunar lander will be always be in contact with the Earth. Credit Advanced Space via Spaceflight Now.

* Yes, CAPSTONE is an acronym: Cislunarˆ Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment. Aren’t you glad you asked?

ˆ Cislunar: The volume of space between the Earth and Moon’s orbit.

Lunar Gateway NASA

An artist’s rendition of the Lunar Gateway with the Orion spacecraft docked to it. Credit NASA.

For more information

https://spaceflightnow.com/2019/09/26/nasa-to-fly-cubesat-pathfinder-for-gateway-in-unique-lunar-orbit/

https://www.space.com/nasa-capstone-cubesat-moon-gateway.html