NASA Breathes a Deep Sigh Of Relief After Multi-Million Dollar Project Is SAVED
(TruthandLiberty.com) – On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy inspired Americans to think beyond Earth and into the stars. In a joint session of Congress, the president announced his plan to send a man to the Moon and back by the end of the 1960s. In 1968, Apollo 8 orbited the heavenly body for the first time in human history. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first humans to touch the lunar surface. Now, NASA is preparing to send Americans back.
On June 28, NASA launched the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) into orbit around Earth from New Zealand. The small satellite’s purpose is to serve as a pathfinder for a future spacecraft that will orbit the Moon. Soon after the launch of CAPSTONE, NASA lost touch with the satellite, but engineers reestablished communications on Wednesday, July 6.
NASA Restores Communication With CAPSTONE Satellite
CAPSTONE is the first mission in NASA’s new Artemis program. Advanced Space built the 55-pound satellite, approximately the size of a microwave, at the cost of $32.7 million. Its purpose is to test out a new, elliptical lunar orbit that NASA says will save fuel and use the gravity wells of the Earth and Moon to keep the device on track. The civilian space agency said it lost communications with the satellite on Monday as the spacecraft exited the Earth’s orbit and headed toward its destination.
Soon after launch, NASA reestablished communication through one of its ground-based telescopes in Madrid, Spain. As the device orbited around the planet, it lost contact with a telescope in Goldstone, California, leaving engineers uncertain what happened or if something compromised the CAPSTONE. Ultimately, the manufacturer determined the problem was an anomaly and restored contact with the critical spacecraft.
CAPSTONE Paves the Way for Moon Operations
It would be difficult to overstate the importance of the satellite’s mission. Its purpose is to reduce the risk for future missions by confirming whether new navigation technologies and orbital theory will work. The Apollo missions reached the Moon in approximately 76 hours using sheer brute force and rocket fuel. CAPSTONE will take about four months to get there, but it will save an incredible amount of fuel.
If successful, the new path would serve as a staging area for Moon missions and beyond while allowing 24/7 communications with astronauts stationed on either a space station or the lunar surface.
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