December 1, 2022

The CAPSTONE team takes back control of the situation from the spacecraft – no longer stuck in space

Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experience, or CAPSTONE, is a CubeSat that will fly in a unique lunar orbit intended for NASA’s future Artemis lunar outpost gateway. Its six-month mission will help launch a new era of deep space exploration. Credit: NASA Ames Research Center

On Friday, October 7, members of the CAPSTONE team successfully performed an operation to stop the spacecraft’s rotation. This removes a significant hurdle in returning the spacecraft to normal operations.

Following the planned course correction maneuver on September 8, CAPSTONE HAD A PROBLEM That puts the spacecraft into safe mode. Soon discovered that a file The spacecraft was spinning It exceeds the ability of the reaction wheels on board to control and repel. According to the spacecraft’s data, the most likely cause was a valve-related problem in one of the spacecraft’s eight thrusters. A partially open valve means that a defective impeller generates thrust whenever the propulsion system is under pressure. After extensive review of telemetry and simulation data, the mission team conducted several tests on the spacecraft in order to formulate a plan to stop the spacecraft’s rotation despite this problem.

On Friday morning, the recall orders were executed. The maneuver appears to have been successful, according to initial telemetry from CAPSTONE and observation data, which indicate that the spacecraft halted its rotation and regained full control of the three-axis position. This means that the CAPSTONE position can be controlled without unplanned rotation. CAPSTONE has now turned its solar arrays toward the sun to maximize power generation. It has also modified the pointing of its antennas to provide better data communication with the ground.

The risks of this anomaly and the recovery process were significant, and the team worked intensely and collaboratively to mitigate these risks. Over the coming days, the team will continue to monitor the condition of the spacecraft and make any necessary adjustments to the procedures in order to account for and mitigate the effects of the partially opened thrust valve. In order to reduce the risks of future maneuvers, the mission team will also endeavor to design possible solutions to this valve issue.

CAPSTONE remains on track to enter a target corona orbit near the Moon on November 13.

CAPSTONE – short for Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experience – is owned by Advanced Space on behalf of[{” attribute=””>NASA. The spacecraft was designed and built by Terran Orbital. Operations are performed jointly by teams at Advanced Space and Terran Orbital.

Read the full update from Advanced Space. Additional updates will be provided, as available.