spaceSpace and PhysicsspaceAstronomy

NASA Has Lost Contact With CAPSTONE, Its Latest Lunar Mission

The space agency is currently working to try to reestablish contact with the small spacecraft.


Dr. Alfredo Carpineti

Senior Staff Writer & Space Correspondent

clockJul 6 2022, 10:06 UTC
Image of CAPSTONE spacecraft around the Moon. Image Credit: NASA Ames
Image of CAPSTONE spacecraft around the Moon. Image Credit: NASA Ames

Update 07/0/7/2022 - NASA has re-established contact with CAPSTONE and the spacecraft is about to complete its first-course correction maneuver. CAPSTONE is still scheduled to get into Lunar Orbit on November 13.

The CAPSTONE mission is experiencing communication issues with the Deep Space Network, a troubling development for the NASA mission which just broke orbit on July 4. The spacecraft was expected to perform its first trajectory correction maneuver on July 5 but this has now been postponed.  


“The spacecraft team currently is working to understand the cause and re-establish contact. The team has good trajectory data for the spacecraft based on the first full and second partial ground station pass with the Deep Space Network. If needed, the mission has enough fuel to delay the initial post separation trajectory correction maneuver for several days. Additional updates will be provided as soon as possible,” NASA said in a blog post about the mission.

CAPSTONE is a pathfinder mission for the Lunar Gateway, the space station to be built in orbit around the Moon. CAPSTONE has been sent on this trip to and around the Moon to test the stability of a near-rectilinear halo orbit (NRHO), a particular solution to the three-body problem that should theoretically guarantee a stable orbit with minimal adjustment.

Hopefully, contact will be reestablished soon, and CAPSTONE will be able to continue its four-month journey to the Moon.

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