The pilots also began communicating with NASA’s CAPSTONE spacecraft.
NASA crew members of the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) re-launched the spacecraft via NASA’s Deep Space Network after encountering communication problems. The data downloaded from CAPSTONE shows that the spacecraft was in good health and operated safely on its own when it was not in contact with Earth. Teams are preparing to do CAPSTONE’s first way to quickly track the track at 11:30 a.m. EDT (8:30 a.m. PDT) on July 7, which will point more accurately to the CAPSTONE route to the Moon. CAPSTONE is in the process of arriving on the moon track on November 13, as initially planned.
In the meantime, the CAPSTONE team is still working hard to entirely understand the root of the problem. The ground-based analysis suggests that the problem started during the operation of the communication system. The team will continue to evaluate data leading to communication problems and monitor the status of CAPSTONE.
The mission team, led by Advanced Space, resumed communications with CAPSTONE at 9:26 a.m. EDT (6:26 a.m. PDT) on July 6. The signal confirmed that CAPSTONE was in the expected location based on data from CAPSTONE’s first Contacts on July 4. The team began the recovery process and received telemetry data from the ship Space at 10:18 a.m. EDT (7:18 a.m. PDT).
Following its launch on June 28, CAPSTONE circled the Earth connected to the top stage of Rocket Lab’s Photon, directing CAPSTONE locally on its journey to the Moon. Photon engines shot seven times in the first six days at critical times to raise the highest point of the orbit to nearly 810,000 miles (1,300,000 km) from Earth before releasing CAPSTONE CubeSat on its lunar transmission path.