CAPSTONE accomplished its primary objective within the first six months in NRHO, successfully testing the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System (CAPS) in coordination with NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). This included showcasing the spacecraft's capability to fulfill its intended purpose of achieving and maintaining NRHO, imaging the Moon, and paving the way for future lunar exploration efforts. CAPSTONE has remained in NRHO, continuing to conduct experiments during an enhanced mission phase.
Key features of CAPSTONE include its alignment with Terran Orbital's Voyager platform specifications, producing over 100W of peak power, incorporating redundant avionics for enhanced reliability, and featuring Stellar Exploration's robust propulsion system. The spacecraft's operations in NRHO have provided NASA with valuable, cost-effective data for the planned Gateway space station, crucial for supporting NASA's Artemis missions to the lunar surface.
The CAPSTONE mission has achieved numerous milestones, including over 56 successful revolutions in a lunar NRHO, 25 independent maneuvers utilizing over 98 m/s of deltaV, and demonstrating advanced propulsion capabilities in a nanosatellite form factor. Furthermore, the dedicated CAPSTONE team overcame tremendous adversity when resolving an anomaly that caused the spacecraft to tumble at over 110deg/s, requiring over a month of recovery efforts to bring CAPSTONE back to a nominal operational state.
Throughout its mission, CAPSTONE has established more than 350 Deep Space Network (DSN) contacts, with over 70 involving collaboration with Morehead State University. Notably, CAPSTONE is the first mission to leverage the resources of Morehead State University for two-way communications with Cislunar space, highlighting its commitment to partnerships and advancing space exploration.
CAPSTONE has been recognized by the industry for its milestone achievements in two recent awards: In 2022, the program received the Small Satellite Mission of the Year Award from the AIAA Small Satellite Technical Committee, and in 2023, the program received a NASA Group Achievement Award.
CAPSTONE's continued success demonstrates its contribution to setting new standards in spacecraft performance and resilience, pushing the boundaries of lunar exploration. The mission's achievements are a testament to the collaborative efforts of the entire CAPSTONE team, reaffirming Terran Orbital Corporation's commitment to advancing the frontiers of space exploration.
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