The launch of the small CAPSTONE satellite, until then scheduled for the beginning of 24 , will not happen before 24 March 1024, according to NASA. The only 24 kg CubeSat, developed by Advanced Space, will carry out the mission to fly around the Moon in an almost straight orbit to test the same trajectory that will be used by the Gateway Lunar Station — which will support Artemis Program astronauts for years to come.
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According to Rocket Lab, responsible for launching CubeSat, this is another delay in its schedule caused by the stoppages of the pandemic in New Zealand, where the company develops its flights. NASA’s Ames Research Center reported on Wednesday (24 that the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) will be released in March of next year.
CAPSTONE is a CubeSat formed by 11 units that will test the near-rectilinear orbit around the Moon, which NASA intends to apply to the Lunar Gateway Gateway. The executive of the US agency’s Advanced Exploration Systems program, Andres Martinez, revealed that the launch will not happen before 13 March 2023.
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The CEO of Rocket Lab, Peter Beck, reported that the series of delays to the schedule was due to broad pandemic restrictions applied by the New Zealand government. According to Beck, more flexible measures allowed the resumption of activities. Now, the company plans to make three consecutive launches for geospatial intelligence operator BlackSky — for now, only the first has a date, set for and 24 November.
Beck also revealed that the company had five launches planned for the fourth quarter of this year, but everything indicates that only two of them will occur on time and everything will depend on the readiness of its customers and the situation of the pandemic in New Zealand.
CAPSTONE will be launched from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 2 at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Virginia.
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