The launch of NASA’s CAPSTONE lunar mission has been delayed by at least another two days, not until Monday (June 27).
Microwave-sized CAPSTONE will head for the Moon on a Rocket Lab Electron rocket that launches from the company’s spaceport in New Zealand.
NASA and Rocket Lab were targeting Saturday (June 25) for the launch, but it has been rescheduled to conduct additional checks on Electron, NASA officials said in a brief message last night. (will open in a new tab) (22nd of June).
Related: Rocket Lab and its Electron booster (photo)
If all goes according to the current plan, CAPSTONE will launch on Monday at 5:50 AM EST (0950 GMT) and arrive on the Moon on November 13th. This arrival date will remain the same regardless of when CAPSTONE launches, NASA officials said. ; this is established by the mission trajectory plan. The CAPSTONE launch window will last until July 27th.
The 55-pound (25-kilogram) CAPSTONE will not land on the moon. Its main goal is to test the stability of a nearly rectilinear halo orbit (NRHO) around the Moon, a highly elliptical trajectory that no spacecraft has ever taken before.
NASA plans to put its Gateway space station — a key part of NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration program — into the lunar NRHO, and CAPSTONE has been tasked with testing it.
The Cubesat will also perform some navigation and communications tests, some of them in tandem with NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been orbiting Earth’s nearest neighbor for more than a decade.
Mike Wall is the author of Out There (will open in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrations by Carl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (will open in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (will open in a new tab) or on facebook (will open in a new tab).