CAPSTONE will be a testbed for Gateway, a Moon-orbiting outpost part of NASA’s Artemis programme.
NASA, Rocket Lab, and Advanced Space have cancelled the June 27 launch of the CAPSTONE (Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment). Weather and other factors are being considered by the teams in order to determine a date for the next launch opportunity.
The mission’s next launch opportunity within the current timeframe is on June 28. However, due to the trajectory design of CAPSTONE, the spacecraft will arrive at its lunar orbit on November 13, regardless of when it is launched during the current launch period, which will offer launch opportunities every day until July 27.
A microwave oven-sized CubeSat weighing around 25 kilogrammes will be the first spacecraft to test a unique, elliptical lunar orbit as part of CAPSTONE. By validating innovative navigation technologies and verifying the dynamics of this halo-shaped orbit as a pathfinder for Gateway, a Moon-orbiting outpost that is part of NASA’s critical Artemis programme, CAPSTONE will help reduce risk for future spacecrafts.