NASA teams have successfully succeeded in stopping the CAPSTONE spacecraft from spinning after a month. Here’s what happened.
Thankfully, a trajectory correction maneuver on September 7 has finally helped to stop NASA’s CAPSTONE spacecraft from spinning due to an issue that the onboard reaction wheel could not control or counter. After the emergence of the issues, the mission team of CAPSTONE extensively reviewed telemetry and simulation data to conduct multiple tests on the spacecraft to design a plan to fix the issue of the spacecraft’s spin.
“Recovery commands were executed Friday morning. Initial telemetry from CAPSTONE and observation data points to a successful maneuver, indicating the spacecraft has stopped its spin and regained full 3-axis attitude control, meaning CAPSTONE’s position is controlled without unplanned rotation,” NASA confirmed via blog. After clearing the hurdle, CAPSTONE has now oriented its solar arrays to the Sun as well as adjusted the pointing of its antennas to provide a better data connection to Earth.
CAPSTONE which is short for – Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment – is owned by Advanced Space on behalf of NASA. “CAPSTONE launched on June 28, 2022, aboard a Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket from the company’s Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand to test cutting-edge tools for mission planning and operations, paving the way and expanding opportunities for small and more affordable space and exploration missions to the Moon, Mars and other destinations throughout the solar system,” NASA explained about the mission.
Now, the CAPSTONE spacecraft remains on its track to insert into its targeted near rectilinear halo orbit at the Moon on November 13. However, in the coming days, the CAPSTONE team will keep an eye on the spacecraft’s status and make any needed adjustments. The mission team will also work to design possible fixes for this valve-related issue to avoid any future risks.