The satellite will create a new path to the Moon as part of NASA’s historic Artemis program
Terran Orbital Corporation (NYSE: babble), a global leader in satellite solutions, primarily serving the United States and Allied aerospace and defense industries, today announced the successful launch of the CAPSTONE satellite. The Terran Orbital designed and built Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, otherwise known as CAPSTONE, launched this morning at 9:55 UTC / 5:55 a.m. EDT / 2:55 a.m. PDT aboard Rocket Lab’s Lunar Photon spacecraft bus on an Electron launch vehicle from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in Mahia, New Zealand. CAPSTONE is owned and operated by Advanced Space on behalf of NASA.
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Rocket Lab Electron’s second stage propels Photon & CAPSTONE into its first parking orbit (Credit: Rocket Lab)
CAPSTONE is a lunar orbiter reducing the risk for future spacecraft by verifying the dynamics of the orbit planned for NASA’s Gateway space station. As a pathfinder, CAPSTONE is the first satellite to demonstrate operations of a Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit (NRHO) around the Moon. Until now this demonstration would be impossible for a 12U form factor such as CAPSTONE – but a radio tower antenna combined with a low-energy “ballistic lunar transfer” broadens the satellite’s capability and reach. The mission also creates infrastructure reducing the reliance on communications from Earth-based fixed tracking assets for navigation and operations support – technology that will be critical as space becomes more congested.
“Terran Orbital would like to thank Rocket Lab for a perfect launch,” said Terran Orbital Co-Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer Marc Bell. “We would also like to thank NASA and Advanced Space for giving us the opportunity to be part of this mission. The path CAPSTONE is paving to the moon will be used by countless future generations. Terran Orbital is proud to have designed, built, and integrated the spacecraft for this historic pathfinding mission and we look forward to running operations throughout CAPSTONE’s journey.”
The Terran Orbital Mission Operations Team is currently preparing for the deployment and initial acquisition of the CAPSTONE spacecraft. In the final days between launch and deployment into the lunar insertion trajectory, the Terran Orbital Mission Operators will complete final rehearsals, practice commissioning scenarios, and fine-tune fault detection and response scenarios.
Click here to watch a replay of the launch.
About Terran Orbital
Terran Orbital is a leading manufacturer of small satellites primarily serving the United States and Allied aerospace and defense industries. Terran Orbital provides end-to-end satellite solutions by combining satellite design, production, launch planning, mission operations, and in-orbit support to meet the needs of the most demanding military, civil, and commercial customers. Learn more at www.terranorbital.com.