NASA heads to the dark side of the moon

By Scoop
June 6, 2022 · less than 3 min read

How much does NASA love space exploration? To the moon and back.

There is no dark side of the moon

Those folks at NASA sure do like to keep busy. But you know what, we’re happy for them. Why take a day off, when you could be overseeing test drives in space. Sounds a little more fun than the average 9-5, right?

What’s on the agenda this time? The team is looking to send a Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment – aka CAPSTONE, a microwave-sized spacecraft – up into the Moon’s trajectory. The objective is to learn more about the previously undiscovered space, and to establish whether it could one day serve as an orbital home to the ‘Gateway’, a planned lunar space station for astronauts.

They just need some space, okay?

Down to the details. CAPSTONE, our friendly microwave pal, could be the first spacecraft to test-drive a zone known as the near rectilinear halo orbit (NRHO) if all goes well. This zone is a strange route around the Moon that is molded by the gravitational pulls of Earth, the Moon, the Sun, and even Jupiter. And it could be home to a space station, provided the CAPSTONE reconnaissance mission is successful.

“The role of a flight test is to separate the real from the imagined,” said Christopher Baker, who is the program executive for NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology Program. When it comes to space – it seems like it pays to be a dreamer. How else would we have thought up putting people on the moon?

So, here’s hoping CAPSTONE comes through clutch for the Gateway. Now that we’d like to see.

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