Launch Dates Set for Artemis I Mission

The Space Launch System rocket fairing with ESA and NASA logos on the launchpad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA, on 27 August 2022. The new ESA logo and NASA’s ‘worm’ logo will be along for the ride on the first full mission of the powerful Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft. (Credit: NASA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — With the rocket now on the launchpad, the Artemis I Moon mission is getting real: 29 August is the first opportunity for the SLS rocket to blast off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center’s launchpad 39B in Florida, USA.

This first Artemis mission will put NASA’s Orion spacecraft and its European Service Module to the test during a journey beyond the Moon and back. The spacecraft will enter lunar orbit, using the Moon’s gravity to gain speed and propel itself almost half a million km from Earth – farther than any human-rated spacecraft has ever travelled.

(more…)

SpaceX Rockets U.S. Launches to New Heights in 2022

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites on June 17, 2022. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Powered by 33 flights of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster, the United States leads all nations with 48 launch attempts through the first seven months of the year. The total is three short of the number of U.S. launches attempted last year, and far ahead of the 27 launches conducted by second place China through the end of July. The U.S. has conducted more launches than the 43 flights conducted by the rest of the world combined.

A number of notable flights were conducted. SpaceX launched two Crew Dragons to the International Space Station (ISS), including the first fully privately funded mission to the orbiting laboratory. United Launch Alliance (ULA) launched Boeing’s CST-100 Starship crew vehicle on an automated flight test to ISS, a crucial step before astronauts to fly on the spacecraft. Small satellite launch provider Rocket Lab conducted its first deep-space mission by sending a spacecraft the size of a microwave to the moon.

(more…)

77 Launches Conducted During First Half of 2022 as Access to Orbit Expanded

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites while the Dragon that will carry Crew-4 to the International space Station awaits its turn. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

It was a busy first half of 2022 that saw 77 orbital launches with 74 successes and three failures through the 182nd day of the year on July 1. At a rate of one launch every 2 days 8 hours 44 minutes, the world is on track to exceed the 146 launches conducted in 2021.

A number of significant missions were launched during a period that saw more than 1,000 satellite launched. SpaceX flew the first fully commercial crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS), Boeing conducted an orbital flight test of its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, China prepared to complete assembly of its space station, South Korea launched its first domestically manufactured rocket, and Rocket Lab sent a NASA mission to the moon.

Let’s take a closer look at the numbers.

(more…)

Northrop Grumman Taps Solstar Space to Provide Wireless Access Points for HALO Module of NASA’s Lunar Gateway

Credit: Solstar Space

Supporting Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems (NGIS) and NASA’s Artemis program, Solstar Space will develop the WiFi Access Points that will be utilized for communications aboard HALO.

SANTA FE, N.M., July 19, 2022  (Solstar Space PR) — Solstar Space (Solstar), the company making persistent in-orbit communications available, and Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC), announced Solstar will provide the Wireless Access Points that will be used on NASA’s Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) module planned for launch in 2024.

(more…)

Orion Space Solutions supports CAPSTONE Program for NASA Moon Missions

Orion’s Chip Scale Atomic Clock provides critical positioning and tracking data for the CAPSTONE Moon Mission

CAPSTONE approaches Near-Rectilinear Halo Orbit (Image Credit: Terran Orbital Corporation)

LOUISVILLE, Colo. (Orion Space Solutions PR) — NASA launched its Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) on June 28, as a part of the Artemis program, to study a specific orbit for the future Gateway lunar station. Led by Advanced Space, this mission is test driving orbital analysis that will enable NASA’s future exploration efforts. Orion Space Solutions (OSS) provides a critical satellite component that will support mission success.

(more…)

CAPSTONE Satellite, Designed and Built by Terran Orbital, Successfully Deploys from Rocket Lab Lunar Photon into Lunar Transfer Orbit

CAPSTONE approaches Near-Rectilinear Halo Orbit (Image Credit: Terran Orbital Corporation)

BOCA RATON, Fla. (Terran Orbital Corporation PR) — Terran Orbital Corporation (NYSE: LLAP), a global leader in satellite solutions, primarily serving the United States and Allied aerospace and defense industries, today announced the successful deployment of the CAPSTONE spacecraft from a Rocket Lab Lunar Photon into a Lunar Transfer Orbit. Terran Orbital designed, built, and integrated Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, otherwise known as CAPSTONE, and is flying a pathfinding mission to the moon in support of NASA’s historic Artemis program. With deployment complete, Terran Orbital will now commence the satellite’s mission operations. CAPSTONE is owned and operated by Advanced Space on behalf of NASA.

(more…)

Advanced Space Recovers Communications with CAPSTONE Spacecraft

Illustration of the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE). (Credit: Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems)

WESTMINSTER, Colo. (Advanced Space PR) — Over the last 24 hours, the CAPSTONE mission team has worked together to narrow down the likely cause of the communications systems anomaly discussed yesterday. The integrated mission team took time and care to work the problem, gaining information from various data sources, working with ground-based hardware to evaluate behavior in a controlled environment, and working to resolve the problem systematically.  This work has included rapid engineering support and resources from many different mission partners. We are extremely grateful for this team effort and want to express our appreciation to all of those involved.

(more…)

Controllers Reestablish Communications with CAPSTONE Spacecraft

Illustration of the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE). (Credit: Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems)

Advanced Space and NASA have announced that controllers have reestablished communications with the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) spacecraft, which is currently on its way to the moon.

The spacecraft is looking happy and healthy. Details to follow,” Advanced Space tweeted. No information was released on what caused CAPSTONE to lose contact with Earth.

Advanced Space developed and is operating the spacecraft, which will test the near rectilinear halo orbit that the human-tended lunar Gateway will use as part of the Artemis moon program.

CAPSTONE Suffers Communications Glitch on Way to Moon

Credit: Advanced Space

The CAPSTONE satellite launched last week to orbit the Moon is having difficulty communicating with controllers on the ground, NASA said in a mission update.

Following successful deployment and start of spacecraft commissioning on July 4, the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) spacecraft experienced communications issues while in contact with the Deep Space Network. The spacecraft team currently is working to understand the cause and re-establish contact. The team has good trajectory data for the spacecraft based on the first full and second partial ground station pass with the Deep Space Network. If needed, the mission has enough fuel to delay the initial post separation trajectory correction maneuver for several days. Additional updates will be provided as soon as possible.

(more…)

ESA Releases Exploration Roadmap for Space Autonomy and Leadership

Credit: ESA–Olivier Pâques

PARIS (ESA PR) — In a bold vision to secure Europe’s role in space exploration and so benefit from the many scientific, economic, and societal rewards, ESA is publicly releasing its new exploration roadmap after its presentation to its Council, the agency’s highest ruling body.

Called Terrae Novae 2030+ (Latin for new worlds), the document lays the groundwork for Europe to ensure its leading role in space exploration for future prosperity.

(more…)

Rocket Lab Moon Mission for NASA a Success as CAPSTONE Heads for the Moon

Credit: Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab successfully deploys CAPSTONE satellite to lunar transfer orbit for NASA, charting a new path to the Moon. CAPSTONE is testing a never-before-flown orbit of the Moon and is the first mission of NASA’s Artemis program

LONG BEACH, Calif., July 4, 2022 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a leading launch and space systems company, today announced it has successfully deployed a pathfinding satellite for NASA, setting it on a course to the Moon.  The deployment marks the successful completion of Rocket Lab’s first deep space mission, paving the way for the Company’s upcoming interplanetary missions to Mars and Venus. 

(more…)

Rocket Lab’s Lunar Photon Completes Sixth Orbit Raise for NASA’s CAPSTONE Mission to The Moon

CAPSTONE (Credit: Terran Orbital)

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Rocket Lab PR) — Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a leading launch and space systems company, today confirmed its Photon Lunar spacecraft successfully completed a sixth on-orbit burn of the HyperCurie engine, bringing the CAPSTONE satellite closer to the Moon. Lunar Photon’s apogee – the point at which the spacecraft is farthest from Earth during its orbit – is now 43,297 miles (69,680 km).

This sixth burn was originally scheduled to be two burns, but Rocket Lab’s space systems team determined the HyperCurie engine would be capable of performing a single maneuver to accomplish the same delta-v, so combined the two.

The next and final burn is designed to set CAPSTONE on a ballistic lunar transfer trajectory to the Moon travelling at 24,500 mph (39,400 km/h) to break free of Earth’s orbit. This final maneuver is currently scheduled to take place as early as July 4th. After separating from Lunar Photon, CAPSTONE will use its own propulsion and the Sun’s gravity to navigate the rest of the way to the Moon, a four-month journey that will have CAPSTONE arriving to its lunar orbit on Nov. 13.

ABOUT CAPSTONE:

Designed and built Terran Orbital, and owned and operated by Advanced Space on behalf of NASA, the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) satellite will be the first spacecraft to test the Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit (NRHO) around the Moon. This is the same orbit intended for NASA’s Gateway, a multipurpose Moon-orbiting station that will provide essential support for long-term astronaut lunar missions as part of the Artemis program. CAPSTONE was successfully launched to space on Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle on June 28.

CAPSTONE Launches to Test New Orbit for NASA’s Artemis Moon Missions

An image of the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, or CAPSTONE, launching aboard Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket from the Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula of New Zealand Tuesday, June 28, 2022. (Image Credit: Rocket Lab)

WASHINGTON (NASA HQ PR) — NASA’s CubeSat designed to test a unique lunar orbit is safely in space and on the first leg of its journey to the Moon. The spacecraft is heading toward an orbit intended in the future for Gateway, a lunar space station built by the agency and its commercial and international partners that will support NASA’s Artemis program, including astronaut missions.

(more…)

Five Launches Scheduled to Close Out June

Electron launches on May 3, 2022. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

Here are the launches scheduled for the rest of June.

Tuesday, June 28

Launch Vehicle: Electron
Payload: CAPSTONE
Launch Site: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand
Launch Time: 5:55 a.m. EDT (09:55 UTC)
Webcast: www.nasa.gov beginning at 5 a.m. EDT (09:00 UTC)

Rocket Lab will launch NASA’s Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) lunar orbiter. The spacecraft will enter a near rectilinear halo orbit on Nov. 13 in order to test technologies for NASA’s lunar Gateway space station that will use that orbit.

Wednesday, June 29

Launch Vehicle: SpaceX Falcon 9
Payload: SES 22 communications satellite
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla.
Launch window: 5:04-7:13 p.m. EDT (21:04-23:13 UTC)
Webcast: www.spacex.com beginning 10 minutes before launch

Thursday, June 30

Launch Vehicle: Virgin Orbit LauncherOne
Payload: STP-28A — 7 small spacecraft
Launch Site: Cosmic Girl (Boeing 747), Mojave Air and Space Port, Calif.
Launch Window: 1:00-5:00 a.m. EDT (10 p.m.-1 a.m. PDT on June 29/30 — 0500-0900 UTC)
Webcast: www.virginorbit.com

Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl Boeing 747 will drop the LauncherOne rocket off the coast of California on a mission funded by Department of Defense’s Space Test Program.

Launch Vehicle: PSLV
Payload: DS-EO Earth observation satellite
Launch Site: Satish Dhawan Space Center, India
Launch Time: 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 UTC)
Webcast: www.isro.gov.in

Launch Vehicle: ULA Atlas V
Payload: USSF 12 missile warning satellite
Launch Site: SLC-41, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla.
Launch Time: 6:00-8:00 p.m. EDT (2200-0000 UTC)
Webcast: www.ulalaunch.com