A satellite the size of a microwave oven succeeded in breaking free from orbit around the Earth on Monday and headed toward the moon, the latest step in NASA’s plan to land astronauts on the moon again.
It has been extraordinary journey Already for the Capstone satellite. It was launched six days ago from Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand by Rocket Lab in one of its small electronic rockets. The satellite will take another four months to reach the moonwhere it travels using minimal energy.
Rocket Lab founder Peter Beck told The Associated Press that it was hard to put his enthusiasm into words.
“It will probably take a while to sink in,” he said. “It was a project that took us two or two and a half years, and it’s incredibly difficult to do.” “So to see it all gather tonight and see that spacecraft on its way to the moon, it’s just totally epic.”
Beck said the relatively low cost of the mission – which NASA estimated at $32.7 million – marked the beginning of a new era space exploration.
“For tens of millions of dollars, there’s now a rocket and spacecraft that can take you to the moon, to asteroids, to Venus, to Mars,” Beck said. “It’s an insane ability that didn’t exist before.”
If the rest of the mission is successful, the Capstone satellite will send out vital information for months as the first time it takes a new one orbiting Around the moon is called the semi-straight orbit of the corona: an elongated egg shape so that one end passes near the moon and the other far from it.
In the end, NASA plans to put space station It’s called Gateway to the Orbital Path, where astronauts can descend to the lunar surface as part of its Artemis program.
The advantage of the new orbit, Beck said, is that it reduces fuel use and allows a satellite — or space station — to remain in constant contact with Earth.
The Electron rocket launched on June 28 from New Zealand was carrying a second spacecraft called the Photon, which separated after nine minutes. The satellite was carried for six days in the Photon, with the spacecraft’s engines fired periodically to raise its orbit away from Earth.
Monday’s recent engine explosion allowed the photon to separate from Earth gravity pull Sending a satellite is on its way. The plan now is for the 25-kilogram (55-pound) satellite to far exceed the moon before falling back into new moon orbit on November 13. The satellite will use tiny amounts of fuel to make some planned course corrections along the moon. road.
Beck said they will decide in the coming days what to do with the Photon, which has finished its tasks and there is still little fuel left in the tank.
“There are a number of really cool tasks we can do with it,” Beck said.
For the mission, NASA has teamed up with two commercial companies: California-based Rocket Lab and Colorado-based Advanced Space, which owns and operates Capstone. Satellites.
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