Just Launched! Microwave-Sized Satellite to Test Unique Orbit Around the Moon

CAPSTONE, NASA's new pathfinder CubeSat, is on its way to the Moon.
CAPSTONE, or the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, launched Tuesday at 5:55 a.m. EDT (09:55 UTC) on Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket from the Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula of New Zealand.
Now on the first leg of its journey, the microwave oven-sized spacecraft will be the first to explore a unique path around the Moon, where the pull of gravity from Earth and the Moon interact to allow for a nearly-stable orbit.
CAPSTONE's test of this special orbit will blaze a path for Gateway, our future lunar space station. This Moon-orbiting spacecraft will be built by NASA and its commercial and international partners to one day serve as a staging area for missions to the Moon and potentially as a jumping point for missions farther into space.
Want to follow CAPSTONE’s journey? Starting about a week after launch, you can virtually ride along with the CubeSat and map its progress live using NASA’s Eyes on the Solar System interactive 3D data visualization. Look for updates about when you can catch CAPSTONE in the visualization on NASA's Ames Research Center's home page, as well as Twitter and Facebook.


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