NASA’s CAPSTONE cubesat is “happy and healthy” after reestablishing communications with Earth, bringing to an end a nerve-wracking 24-hour period in which the spacecraft was out of touch with ground communications.
Advanced Space, the Colorado-based company that built, owns and is operating CAPSTONE, Terran Orbital, which built the cubesat platform, and NASA each independently confirmed the reconnection Wednesday.
CAPSTONE, or Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, is the first step for NASA’s ambitious Artemis program, which aims to return humans to the moon by the middle of this decade. The microwave oven-sized cubesat is meant to chart out an unusual orbit around the moon, called a near-rectilinear halo orbit (NRHO), that could eventually be used for a lunar space station.
That space station, which NASA refers to as “Gateway,” could open up a huge array of possibilities for humanity’s exploration of space. Gateway could be used to deposit rovers or