NASA is preparing a rescue plan for the Capstone nanosatellite

The American space agency is still working on the recovery of Capstone, which has been in trouble for several days. A plan to save him is in the works.

This may be the end of the tunnel for Capstone. In a milestone shared on September 21, 2022, the US space agency made progress in its efforts to fully regain control of Capstone. This would be excellent news for NASA: the probe has been experiencing difficulties for several days, without the ground team having succeeded in finding a solution.

On paper, Capstone is just a nanosatellite. Its role is however quite important: it must test a particular orbit around the Moon, on which the future lunar station will be positioned. In short, he plays the role of scout, of the first step for the Artemis program, which will bring astronauts back to the Moon during the 2020s.

A Plan to Regain Capstone Mastery

In its September 12 update, NASA reported that Capstone had switched to a safety mode. The machine had also had a concern for energy consumption and a punctual concern for communication. Then on September 15, NASA indicated that its main subject was to maintain a correct temperature level for the Capstone propulsion system.

The latest news from NASA on this subject is encouraging. ” Over the past week, the Capstone spacecraft has been able to improve thermal conditions for propellant and other critical systems while maintaining positive power output ‚ÄúSummarizes the agency. There remains a problem: the rotation of the vehicle on itself.

An artist’s impression of Capstone. // Source: NASA/Daniel Rutter

NASA says it has a plan to stop this movement. Tests have been conducted and their results indicate that this approach is viable. However, it is not yet known when this recovery attempt will be carried out: the space agency says that there are still some tests and preparations to be completed before. It might take a few extra days.

Capstone is supposed to arrive in the vicinity of the Moon during November 2022. As it stands, its trajectory remains good. Luckily, the nanosatellite’s failures manifested as it was completing a corrective maneuver. But the question that will begin to arise is whether the little machine will be able to fulfill what it was made for.

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The Moon eclipsed on November 19, 2021. // Source: Flickr/CC/Dirk Pons (cropped photo)

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