Engineers get NASA’s CAPSTONE lunar satellite spin back under control

Engineers get NASA’s CAPSTONE lunar satellite spin back under control

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For the past month, NASA’s CAPSTONE outer has been spinning done abstraction aft it suffered an mistake connected its mode to an experimental orbit astir the moon. But now, engineers person managed to stabilize the satellite, stopping its rotation and getting its cognition backmost nether control.

The error occurred connected September 8, aft a trajectory correction maneuver. The mistake caused the spacecraft to spell into harmless mode, and determination were concerns astir whether it had capable power coming done its star panels to support vigor successful the propulsion system. On Friday, October 7, squad members sent betterment commands to the spacecraft which succeeded successful stopping its spin.

Artist's illustration of CAPSTONE approaching the moon.Artist’s illustration of CAPSTONE approaching the moon. Illustration by NASA/Daniel Rutter

“Initial telemetry from CAPSTONE and reflection information points to a palmy maneuver, indicating the spacecraft has stopped its rotation and regained afloat 3-axis cognition control, meaning CAPSTONE’s presumption is controlled without unplanned rotation,” NASA said successful an update. That should assistance with powerfulness concerns arsenic the star panels tin present beryllium oriented, the bureau said. “CAPSTONE present has oriented its star arrays to the Sun and adjusted the pointing of its antennas to supply a amended information transportation to Earth.”

Performing the betterment cognition was risky, according to Advanced Space, the institution which owns the outer connected behalf of NASA. So the process was tested extensively earlier the commands were sent, and present the squad volition proceed to show the outer intimately to cheque that everything is operating arsenic it should.

The institution besides shared accusation astir the underlying origin of the issue, which seems to person a occupation with a valve connected 1 of the spacecraft’s thrusters. “Data from the spacecraft suggests the astir apt origin was a valve-related contented successful 1 of the spacecraft’s 8 thrusters,” NASA said. “The partially unfastened valve meant the thruster produced thrust whenever the propulsion strategy was pressurized.” This was what caused the spacecraft to rotation retired of power pursuing the trajectory correction maneuver, successful which the thrusters are fired to set the people of the spacecraft.

Now, CAPSTONE volition proceed connected its travel to a special orbit astir the moon, which is it acceptable to participate connected November 13. As it travels, the squad volition proceed to enactment connected imaginable fixes for the worth issue.

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