NASA’s CAPSTONE Moon Probe Is In More Trouble Than We Realized

Artist's depiction of CAPSTONE.

Artist’s depiction of CAPSTONE.
picture: NASA

The controllers with the CAPSTONE mission are trying to regain control of The probe bound for the Moon, which is currently faltering, has temperature issues, and is unable to use solar panels to fully recharge its batteries.

in Modernization released on Monday, Advanced Space described it as a “dynamic operational state.” The company is managing the project for NASA, in which the 55-pound (25 kg) cube satellite will establish a unique orbit around the moon before liftoff. lunar space station. capstonean acronym for Lunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experience, Launched On June 28, he is in the middle of a four-month journey to the moon.

The The problem started Either during or after the third trajectory correction maneuver (TCM-3) on September 8. An unknown problem with the entry caused CAPSTONE to stumble – one beyond the ability of the reaction wheels on board the probe to withstand, according to to NASA.

CAPSTONE needs to make seven course corrections to reach its intended coronal orbit around the Moon.  The last anomaly occurred either during or after the third track maneuver on September 8.

CAPSTONE NEED TO PERFORM SEVEN Path corrections to reach the intended corona orbit around the Moon. The last anomaly occurred either during or after the third track maneuver on September 8.
Draw: advanced space

Multiple path corrections are required to move the probe towards Its intended lunar orbit, known as near-linear halo orbit (NRHO), which is assumed to be CAPSTONE To arrive on November 13th. CAPSTONE reached its climax – its farthest point from Earth – on August 26, in A distance of 951,908 miles (1.53 million km) from our planet.

After the last course correction, ground stations were unable to receive meaningful communications from CAPSTONE, prompting Advanced Space to declare an operational emergency. When it finally reconnected about 24 hours later, “mission controllers found that the spacecraft was faltering, on-board computer systems were periodically resetting, and the spacecraft was using more energy than it was generating from its solar panels,” NASA explained.

Fortunately, the controllers were able to stabilize the spacecraft using NASA’s Deep Space Network, a set of giant radio antennas used to support interplanetary spacecraft missions. “The rapid response enabled by deep space network support and quick thinking by the team at Terran Orbital allowed mission operators to quickly reconfigure the spacecraft’s operational state to stabilize the situation while recovery plans can be further evaluated,” according to one study. Advanced Space Update. A recovery team made up of experts from NASA, Advanced Space, Terran Orbital (CAPSTONE designer and manufacturer), and Stellar Exploration (CAPSTONE propulsion system provider) is currently evaluating the next steps. Without the Deep Space Network, the team would have “little or no information about the state of the spacecraft,” according to Advanced Space. However, there are still hurdles for the teams due to incomplete information.

The good news is that CAPSTONE has been placed in a stable condition. It’s still stumbling and in safe mode, but now it’s generating more power than you’re using. The cubes are currently rotating in such a way that the solar panels are partially illuminated, which results in poor transmission from the low-gain antennas. Most importantly, the probe successfully completed its third trajectory correction maneuver, which means it is still on its way to its own halo orbit around the Moon.

The recovery team will make a decision on how to proceed in the coming days. In addition to diagnosing the cause of the skew, the team needs to solve unspecified temperature issues with several subsystems, including the propulsion system. The team is also preparing to dismantle the spacecraft in an effort to regain control of its orientation. There is good reason to believe that this procedure will work, as a similar dismantling took place in July after CAPSTONE separated from the upper stage of the Electron rocket.

Assuming CAPSTONE can be brought out of its stumble, the controllers will then instruct the solar panels to fully recharge the probe’s batteries, thus allowing the mission to continue as planned. But as Advanced Space bleakly noted: “Many details remain unknown about the cause of this anomaly, and the analysis of high stakes continues.” CAPSTONE is not far off, but there is reason to be optimistic.

CAPSTONE is a preparatory mission for the future Artemis programNASA seeks a permanent and sustainable return to the lunar environment. To support the Artemis crews, NASA and its international partners are seeking to place a space station, called Gateway, in a gravitationally stable corona orbit. No probe has ever worked at NHRO, hence the importance of the CAPSTONE exploration mission.

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