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NASA probe explores moon orbit – Space agency NASA launched the small space probe CAPSTONE on Tuesday. In four months, she should be in orbit around the moon that has never been traveled before. The goal is to see how that goes, as astronauts may travel the same route in the coming years.

CAPSTONE, which is no bigger than a microwave oven, was launched in New Zealand with a rocket from space company Rocket Lab. The explorer will study an orbit around the moon where NASA eventually wants to float a small space station. Astronauts must dock there before and after their visit to the moon.

The intention is that humans will land on the moon again in 2025 at the earliest, for the first time since the seventies. To this end, NASA has created the Artemis program, which succeeds the famous Apollo missions of the last century.

NASA probe explores moon orbit before humans go there

CAPSTONE stands for Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment. The probe must travel an orbit that brings it relatively close to the moon once every seven days; namely at about 355 kilometers. The other six days of the week he takes much more distance: the furthest point is more than 70,800 kilometers. (NASA probe explores moon orbit)

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Then he returns. Because NASA has never put a device into this orbit before, this small and unmanned probe is first sent.

CAPSTONE’s mission, once it reaches the moon, will last at least six months. Among other things, the explorer will investigate how best to stay in the right orbit around the moon. It also measures how long it takes for transmitted radio signals from the probe to reach Earth.

The launch of this explorer can be seen as the very beginning of the Artemis program. The Artemis 1 mission is due to take place in August at the earliest. That is the first test flight of NASA’s mega rocket, the Space Launch System.

The Orion capsule that comes on there should eventually take humans to the moon and back again.


NASA probe explores moon orbit before humans go there


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