NASA specialists restored the orientation of the CAPSTONE satellite

Specialists of the CAPSTONE mission support team have successfully restored the spacecraft’s normal orientation. This is stated in a message published on the NASA website. 

CAPSTONE Satellite Problems

The CAPSTONE satellite was launched by an Electron rocket in late June 2022. The main purpose of its mission is to check the orbit on which the projected Gateway lunar station is planned to be placed in the future. 

Infographic dedicated to the CAPSTONE mission

On September 8, CAPSTONE performed an important course correction that was supposed to put it into a given orbit. At the end of the maneuver, it had problems. The 25-kilogram device began to rotate uncontrollably, which led to an interruption of communication with the Earth and power outages, due to which the temperature of its propulsion system dropped below the safe limit.

NASA Rescue Operation

During the subsequent analysis of telemetry and the study of various scenarios on the simulator, the engineers came to the conclusion that the valve of one of the eight low-thrust engines was the cause of the problems. After that, they developed a sequence of actions to return the normal orientation of the satellite.

On October 7, a special algorithm was uploaded to CAPSTONE. After its completion, the mission specialists managed to restore the normal orientation of the probe. This made it possible to deploy its solar panels towards the Sun and change the position of the antennas for better data transmission to Earth.

At the same time, NASA emphasizes that this is not the end of the rescue operation. A faulty valve can destabilize the satellite again, so engineers will closely monitor its behavior and explore options to reduce risks during future maneuvers. CAPSTONE will have to enter the target orbit on November 13 and work on it for the next nine months.

According to

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