NASA restores communication with new moon spacecraft after brief power outage

NASA restores communication with new moon spacecraft after brief power outage
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Update July 6, 11:45 PM ET: On Wednesday morning, NASA announced that the mission team’s Re-established contact with CAPSTONE. Our original story about the communications blackout after the spacecraft split continues below.

NASA is struggling to make contact with the new CAPSTONE spacecraft, a small probe just launched from Earth to test a new orbit around the Moon. Due to these communication problems, NASA had to delay a planned maneuver vehicle that will help heal its path to deep space. The agency is still trying to re-establish contact.

CAPSTONE is the first mission of NASA’s Artemis program, the agency’s efforts to finally send humans back to the Moon. As part of this return to the Moon, NASA plans to build a new space station in orbit around the Moon. But the orbit NASA wants to use is unique; it’s never really been used by a spacecraft before, especially a long haul. CAPSTONE is meant to serve as a wayfinding missionThe spacecraft placed itself in this orbit and gave NASA some operational experience before the agency began building its new station.

About the size of a microwave oven, CAPSTONE was launched from New Zealand on June 28 atop a small Electron rocket operated by aerospace company Rocket Lab. To give CAPSTONE an extra boost to the Moon, Rocket Lab used a special booster called Photon, which stays attached to the satellite after the initial launch and periodically raises the satellite’s orbit. CAPSTONE finally left Photon on July 4th and seemed to be working fine for the first 11 hours after the breakup, According to Advanced Spacemanufactures and operates spacecraft. CAPSTONE installed the solar panels and started charging its onboard batteries.

The mission team was able to point CAPSTONE to Earth and communicate with one of the dishes in NASA’s Deep Space Network; This is a series of ground-based telescopes that the agency uses around the world to communicate with spacecraft heading into deep space. CAPSTONE was able to make contact with one of the telescopes in Madrid, Spain, which allowed the team to begin checking the satellite and prepare the vehicle for its upcoming maneuver to change its planned course on July 5.

But according to NASA, the spacecraft began having communication problems while in contact with another telescope in the Deep Space Network – this one in Goldstone, California. Advanced Space attributed the problem to an “anomaly” in the communications subsystem. As a result, the July 5 maneuver was delayed as the crew tried to re-establish contact with the spacecraft. The maneuver will be the first of a planned series of similar adjustments that CAPSTONE will perform on its way to the Moon.

After all, Advanced Space says CAPSTONE can handle the lag. The spacecraft takes a particularly long way to reach the Moon and will take about four months to complete. It’s a particularly fuel-efficient, but also time-consuming route. Advanced Area tells the route and gives the team time to fully understand the problem and find a solution before continuing the maneuver.

when CAPSTONE made Making contact, the mission team was able to determine the spacecraft’s position and speed in space. Currently, CAPSTONE is roughly 177,000 miles (285,000 kilometers) from Earth. Engineers have also been able to stabilize the spacecraft and are doing their best to solve the communication problem. “The CAPSTONE mission team has been working round the clock over the holiday weekend to support this important mission,” said the Advanced Space update.

Now, CAPSTONE waits alone in space as the teams furiously try to reconnect. NASA says it will provide updates as they become available.

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