The Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, or CAPSTONE, spacecraft which will chart a new path for NASA’s Moon-orbiting space station Gateway, just started its journey. On Monday, May 9, 2022, it shipped from Terran Orbital Corporation in Irvine, California, to its launch site at Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 (LC-1) on the Mahia Peninsula of New Zealand.
CAPSTONE’s unique near rectilinear halo orbit around the Moon. Credit: Advanced Space
CAPSTONE is expected to arrive at the Mahia Launch Complex in the next few days in preparation for a launch no earlier than May 2022. It will launch on a Rocket Lab Electron rocket using a Lunar Photon satellite upper stage to send the spacecraft into a never-been-tested near rectilinear halo orbit around the Moon.