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Rocket Lab Successfully Raises Orbit a Fourth Time For NASA’s CAPSTONE Moon Mission

Rocket Lab USA, Inc, a leading launch and space systems company, confirmed its Photon Lunar spacecraft has successfully brought the CAPSTONE satellite for NASA closer to the Moon with the completion of its fourth orbit raising maneuver.

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After CAPSTONE was successfully delivered to space on Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket and Photon Lunar spacecraft, NASA’s CubeSat remains attached to Photon as it periodically ignites its HyperCurie engine to accelerate the mission beyond Earth’s orbit.

Today, Photon successfully completed its fourth orbit raising maneuver to bring CAPSTONE closer to the Moon – the second of two completed maneuvers within the same 24-hour period. After the next few days and successive HyperCurie engine burns, Photon will release CAPSTONE on a ballistic lunar transfer trajectory to the Moon, from which Advanced Space (which owns and operators CAPSTONE on behalf of NASA) will take over the CAPSTONE mission.

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The Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) CubeSat was successfully launched to space on Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle at 09:55 UTC, June 28.

Designed and built by Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, a Terran Orbital Corporation, and owned and operated by Advanced Space on behalf of NASA, the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) CubeSat will be the first spacecraft to test the Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit (NRHO) around the Moon. This is the same orbit intended for NASA’s Gateway, a multipurpose Moon-orbiting station that will provide essential support for long-term astronaut lunar missions as part of the Artemis program.

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