Concern exists at NASA, since its CAPSTONE satelliteessential for future manned missions to the Moon, lost all communication with Earth on July 4.
A NASA spokesman told space.com that the team has solid information on CAPSTONE’s trajectory and that handlers are trying to re-establish contact with the cubesat.
“If necessary, the mission has enough fuel to delay the initial post-separation trajectory correction maneuver for several days,” the spokesperson told the site.
CAPSTONE spent six days picking up speed in orbit in a Rocket Lab electron booster and finally deployed yesterday, on a path to the Moon. The plan is for CAPSTONE to enter a near-rectilinear halo orbit around the Moon on November 13, serving as a test run for NASA’s Artemis mission. With Artemis, NASA plans to set up a space station called Lunar Gateway in orbit of the Moon, serving as a permanent floating base for lunar visitors, complete with living quarters and a laboratory.
NASA’s idea is to start the Artemis 1 space program between August 23 and September 6, with the aim of putting a human back on the Moon in 2025.