NASA wishes to test a new orbit surrounding the moon that it hopes to use in the forthcoming years to send astronauts to the lunar surface again.
Therefore, it is about to send a test satellite from New Zealand. The preliminary phases of the launch took off according to plan, with the rocket holding up the satellite entering space on Tuesday.
If the remaining mission proves to be successful, the Capstone CubeSat satellite, which is roughly about the size of a microwave oven, will be the first to take the new path surrounding the moon and will send back vital information for at least six months.
Technically, the new orbit is known as a near-rectilinear halo orbit. It has a shape of a stretched-out egg with one end passing near the moon and the other away from it.
“It will have equilibrium. Poise. Balance,” NASA wrote on its website. “This pathfinding CubeSat will practically be able to kick back and rest in a gravitational sweet spot in space—where the pull of gravity from Earth and the Moon interact to allow for a nearly-stable orbit.”
Ultimately, NASA intends to put a space station named Gateway into the orbital path, from which astronauts can land on the moon’s surface as a part of its Artemis program.