Artwork depicts CAPSTONE spacecraft in a near rectilinear halo orbit (NRHO) around the moon.
Credit: NASA/Advanced Space

That troublesome tumbling of the NASA CAPSTONE Moon mission received some relatively good news on a recovery pathway for the spacecraft.

“The communications situation has dramatically improved, the power state of the spacecraft appears to be sufficient for continuous (duty cycled) heating of the propulsion system which dropped below its operational temperature,” said Advanced Space that’s operating the probe for NASA.

The microwave-sized spacecraft — Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) — continues on its planned path to the Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit around the Moon.

CAPSTONE team members install solar panels onto the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment – at Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems Inc. in Irvine, California.
Credits: NASA/Dominic Hart

Ongoing effort

Teams at the Deep Space Network, NASA, Terran Orbital, and Advanced Space been engaged in a continuous, ongoing effort to straighten out and fly right CAPSTONE over the past 5 days.

Over the last few days, CAPSTONE’s power – though limited by the orientation of the spacecraft in its spin relative to the Sun – appears to be sufficient for heating of the propulsion system. The propellant and propulsion system are in a recoverable state.

“Information on the cause of the anomaly has been obtained and is being evaluated, and recovery plans that mitigate risk of further anomalous behavior are being developed,” said Advanced Space of Westminster, Colorado, the group that developed and operates CAPSTONE.

Jeffrey Parker, chief technology officer of Advanced Space (left) explains the CAPSTONE mission to U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper over a full-size model of the spacecraft.
Credit: Advanced Space/Jason Johnson



“We do not have a timeline for a recovery attempt, but the team is working hard to make progress guided by what we are learning from the data with an explicit goal to minimize further risk to the mission,” an Advanced Space statement explained.

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