NASA recently announced a partnership for the CAPSTONE CubeSat project, a launch mission by California-based Rocket Lab. NASA says Rocket Lab has obtained commercial permission from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to launch the CubeSat satellite in orbit around the moon.
The CAPSTONE project, the full name of Cislunar’s autonomous positioning system technology operation and navigation experiment, will be the first spacecraft to operate in a linear halo orbit near the moon. In this unique orbit, CubeSat will rotate with the moon as it orbits the Earth and will pass nearly 1,000 miles from the moon’s surface and up to 43,500 miles.
CubeSat is a small satellite for space research consisting of a multiple of 10 cm x 10 cm x 11.35 cm cubic units. Each unit of cubic satellite weighs no more than 1.33 kg and is often used as a circuit and structure for commercial spot components. According to NASA, it will use CubeSat as a “pathfinder” for the future Gatwick space station, which is itself an important part of nasa’s Artemis program.
Ana Rivera, NASA LSP Program Integration Manager at CAPSTONE, says:
NASA’s Launch Service Program (LSP) is pleased to offer CAPSTONE a low-cost launch service and is pleased to partner with Rocket Lab for NASA’s first launch from its new launch site in Spaceport, Mid-Atlantic, Virginia.