NASA’s tiny CAPSTONE CubeSat is making decent progress on its long journey to the moon.

The 55-pound CAPSTONE was lifted off to Earth orbit aboard a Rocket Lab Electron booster on June 28, Monday. CAPSTONE will stay in orbit, fastened to Rocket Lab’s Photon spacecraft bus, but it’s getting increasingly distant from its home planet.

“The moon just got a little closer! We’ve successfully ignited Photon’s HyperCurie engine a 6th time, raising #CAPSTONE’s apogee to 69,680 km [43,300 miles]. Since we combined 2 burns into 1 for this maneuver, only 1 final burn remains to set CAPSTONE on a ballistic lunar transfer to the moon,” Rocket Lab representatives said via Twitter this morning on July 1.

“That final thrust, which will launch the Photon-CAPSTONE duo to 24,500 mph (39,400 kph), could take place as early as Monday on July 4,” Rocket Lab said in another tweet today. Within 20 minutes of the thrust, Photon will deploy CAPSTONE, and the microwave-oven-sized CubeSat will make its way to the moon.

Ultimately, in November. 13th, the spacecraft will slide into a near-rectilinear halo orbit (NRHO) surrounding the moon. This highly elliptical route will carry it within 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of the lunar surface on its nearest path and as far away as 43,500 miles (70,000 km).

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Alice is the Chief Editor with relevant experience of three years, Alice has founded Galaxy Reporters. She has a keen interest in the field of science. She is the pillar behind the in-depth coverages of Science news. She has written several papers and high-level documentation.


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