The Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, or CAPSTONE, spacecraft safely arrived at the Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 (LC-1) on the Mahia Peninsula of New Zealand ahead of its launch. The launch window opens May 31 and extends through June 22. Rocket Lab completed the launch rehearsal, and with the spacecraft now at the launch site, will begin payload integration with the Electron rocket and Photon spacecraft bus.
NASA, Rocket Lab, and Advanced Space are currently targeting no earlier than May 31, 2022, for the launch of the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, or CAPSTONE, mission. We will continually evaluate the date for the first target launch attempt within the launch period, which extends to June 22.
The Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, or CAPSTONE, spacecraft which will chart a new path for NASA’s Moon-orbiting space station Gateway, just started its journey. On May 9, it shipped from Terran Orbital Corporation in Irvine, California, to its launch site at Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 (LC-1) on the Mahia Peninsula of New Zealand.
CAPSTONE is expected to arrive at the Mahia Launch Complex in the next few days in preparation for a launch no earlier than May 2022. It will launch on a Rocket Lab Electron rocket using a Lunar Photon satellite upper stage to send the spacecraft into a never-been-tested near rectilinear halo orbit around the Moon.
Crews at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, worked April 19-20 to remove the first flight core stage of the agency’s Space Launch System rocket from the B-2 Test Stand in preparation for its transport to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Operations required crews to lift the core stage from its vertical placement in the stand and lower it to a horizontal position on the B-2 Test Stand tarmac. The stage now will be loaded on NASA’s Pegasus barge for transport to Kennedy, where it will be prepared for launch of the Artemis I mission. Removal of the largest rocket stage ever built by NASA followed completion of a series of eight Green Run tests over the past year. During the Green Run series, teams performed a comprehensive test of the stand’s sophisticated and integrated systems. The series culminated in a hot fire of the stage’s four RS-25 engines on the B-2 stand March 18. During the hot fire, the four engines generated a combined 1.6 million pounds of thrust, just as during an actual launch. The test was the most powerful performed at Stennis in more than 40 years. NASA is building SLS, the world’s most powerful rocket, to return humans to deep space missions. As part of the backbone of NASA’s Artemis program, SLS will return humans, including the first woman and person of color, to the surface of the Moon to establish a sustainable presence and prepare for eventual missions to Mars.