Today, June 28, NASA’s small microwave-sized spacecraft set off on a four-month journey to the moon. Its task is to enter a unique elongated lunar orbit, which has not yet been flown by the ships of the American aerospace agency. With the help of this device, NASA specialists want to test a new orbit, since they plan to send astronauts to the Earth’s satellite in the same way in the next decade.
This is an almost rectilinear halo orbit, in which a spacecraft can go around the Moon in seven days, delivering various vehicles relatively close to the lunar surface. NASA is considering using the orbit for the Artemis lunar program. Over the next decade, the Americans want to build a new Gateway station around the Earth’s satellite. It will serve as a staging post for future astronauts bound for the moon, and NASA plans to place the station in that orbit.
The CAPSTONE mission will serve as a guide for future launches under the Artemis program. When the astronauts flew to the moon, their path took them in a circular orbit, which eventually brought them closer to the surface of the satellite at a distance of 100 km. Thus, they could descend and return relatively quickly. However, that approach required a lot of resources. The future circumlunar station will be located within 1600 km from the South Pole of the Moon and every week deviate by 70 thousand km from the other pole. It is much further, but the new path has important advantages. Firstly, the ships will be in constant line of sight from the Earth, which will allow maintaining continuous communication. Second, the new orbit does not require as much propellant as a circular orbit, as spacecraft along the way are subject to the gravitational pull of the Earth, Sun, and Moon.
With the help of the CAPSTONE probe, NASA wants to test the gravity of the Earth and the Moon in orbit, as well as find out how long it takes to get to the Moon. It is expected that the device will enter orbit on November 13, where it will spend at least six months. During this time, NASA will collect important data. After completing its mission, the agency will send CAPSTONE on its final journey to the moon.
Source: Trash Box