Watch the successful launch of the CAPSTONE satellite on the Rocket Lab Electron rocket

CAPSTONE Uses Gravity on Unusual, Efficient Route to the Moon

A microwave oven-sized CubeSat dubbed CAPSTONE will blaze an untested, unusual yet efficient deep space route to the Moon that NASA is greatly interested in and future spacecraft may want to imitate.

 

The destination for CAPSTONE – short for the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment – is a unique lunar orbit intended for NASA’s Gateway, a multipurpose outpost that will provide essential support for long-term astronaut lunar missions as part of the Artemis program. This special orbit, called a near rectilinear halo orbit, or NRHO, enables stability that translates to energy efficiency for Gateway’s minimum 15-year lifespan orbiting the Moon. CAPSTONE will be the first spacecraft to test the dynamics of NRHO once it arrives at the Moon following a four-month transit period. And while this gravity-driven track takes longer to reach the Moon, it will dramatically reduce the amount of fuel this pathfinder CubeSat will need to fly there.

The CAPSTONE team has virtually flown the CubeSat to NRHO through repeated tests in high fidelity computer simulations.

“Advanced Space used mature, flight-proven, NASA-derived simulation tools to develop, implement, and verify CAPSTONE’s mission trajectory and navigation approach,” said Tom Gardner, CAPSTONE program manager at Advanced Space of Westminster, Colorado.

 

 

Launch and Earth Escape 

 

CAPSTONE is planned to launch no earlier than May 31 aboard Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket from the company’s Launch Complex 1 in Mahia, New Zealand. The CubeSat will start its mission joined with the Lunar Photon, an interplanetary third stage developed by Rocket Lab.

 

About 20 minutes after launch, the Lunar Photon – carrying CAPSTONE as a payload –will separate from Electron’s second stage at an altitude of 155 miles. After a short coast, Photon’s HyperCurie engine will then periodically ignite to increase its velocity and raise the highest point of its orbit to about 37,000 miles.

 

About six days after launch, a final ignition will accelerate Photon to 24,500 miles per hour to escape low-Earth orbit on a trajectory into deep space. Within 20 minutes of its final burn completion, Photon will release CAPSTONE into space for the first leg of the CubeSat’s solo flight to the Moon.

 

Fly Me to the Moon, as Efficiently as Possible

 

The CubeSat will rack up serious mileage hurtling through deep space on its traverse from Earth to the Moon. Assisted by the Sun’s gravity, it will reach a distance of 963,000 miles from Earth – more than three times the distance between Earth and the Moon – before being pulled back towards the Earth-Moon system.

 

This sinuous track – called a ballistic lunar transfer, or BLT – follows dynamic gravitational contours in deep space. CAPSTONE’s team will calculate the BLT trajectory based on the ever-changing positions of Earth, the Moon, and the Sun.

 

Expending little energy, CAPSTONE will cruise along these contours punctuated by a series of planned trajectory correction maneuvers. At critical junctures, CAPSTONE’s team at Advanced Space’s mission operations center will command the spacecraft to fire its thrusters to adjust course. Terran Orbital Corporation in Irvine, California, designed and built CAPSTONE and developed novel technology that allows the spacecraft to execute maneuvers while maintaining control of the spacecraft on thrusters only.

 

When CAPSTONE catches up to the Moon, its approach will be perfectly aligned for NRHO insertion, the crux of its route. While going 3,800 miles per hour, it will perform its delicate, precisely timed propulsive maneuver to enter orbit, like a flying trapeze artist who jumps from one arc to another with a decisive, acrobatic motion.

 

“We studied tens of thousands of computer simulations of the spacecraft’s transfer to the Moon,” said Ethan Kayser, CAPSTONE mission design lead at Advanced Space. CAPSTONE’s team used these simulations to optimally place the propulsive firings – used for course correction – to minimize the CubeSat’s fuel use and orbit insertion errors. “We also developed a unique, two-burn sequence to clean up errors after this sensitive insertion.”

 

BLT and orbit simulations also have allowed the team at Terran Orbital to prepare the spacecraft for any potential hiccups.

“The CAPSTONE spacecraft features a robust autonomous software design that allows it to recover from a variety of anomalies if one should occur,” said Marc Bell, co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Terran Orbital.

 

As no spacecraft has ever been placed in this type of orbit, CAPSTONE will lead the way for Gateway. Additionally, CAPSTONE’s mission will demonstrate multiple technologies that will lay a foundation for commercial support of future lunar operations.

Illustration of the CAPSTONE spacecraft in the NASA’s Eyes orrery – a digital model of the solar system.
Preview of the CAPSTONE spacecraft in the NASA’s Eyes orrery – a digital model of the solar system – using NASA’s Eyes on the Solar System interactive real-time 3D data visualization. Keep your eye on NASA’s social media channels for updates on when you can expect to see the CubeSat on its flight to the Moon in the visualization.
Credits: NASA

 

Visualize CAPSTONE’s Flight in Real Time

 

NASA invites the public to follow CAPSTONE’s journey live using NASA’s Eyes on the Solar System interactive real-time 3D data visualization. Starting about one week after launch, you can virtually ride along with the CubeSat with a simulated view of our solar system. NASA will post updates about when you can expect to see CAPSTONE in the visualization on NASA’s Ames Research Center’s home page as well as Twitter and Facebook.

 

Learn more:

For news media:

Members of the news media interested in covering this topic should reach out to the NASA Ames newsroom.

Author: Gianine Figliozzi, NASA’s Ames Research Center

 


CAPSTONE is commercially owned and operated by Advanced Space in Westminster, Colorado. It represents an innovative collaboration between NASA and industry to provide rapid results and feedback to inform future exploration and science missions. 

 

NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology program within the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) funds the demonstration mission. The program is based at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. The development of CAPSTONE’s navigation technology is supported by NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) program, also within STMD. The Artemis Campaign Development Division within NASA’s Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate funds the launch and supports mission operations. The Launch Services Program at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida manages the launch.

Privacy Policy

In this Privacy Notice (“Notice”), Terran Orbital Corporation and our subsidiaries and affiliates (“Company, “We”, “Us”), explain how we collect, use, and share personal information in the general course of our business including through our website at TerranOrbital.com and our other corporate websites that link to this Notice (collectively, our “Website”).

If you have any questions regarding this Notice, you may email us at the email address listed in the section below entitled “How to Contact Us.“

TYPES OF PERSONAL INFORMATION WE COLLECT

We generally collect contact information (such as a person’s name, company or employer name, email address, mailing address, and phone number). This contact information is typically work contact information as we offer and provide our goods and services to businesses, not to individuals. We may also request and collect other information such as general information about a company’s potential needs as they relate to the goods and services we provide.

We also collect technical data automatically when you visit our Website such as your IP address, browser type and version, operating system, information about your activity on the Website including the date and time you access the Website and similar web server log information, as well as your indicated preferences in using our Website. Some of this information could be used to identify you or be associated with you.

THE PURPOSE OF OUR COLLECTION AND PROCESSING OF PERSONAL INFORMATION

We use your personal information to operate our business including to directly market our offerings to you. Here are more specific examples of how we use your personal information:

To respond to and process your specific inquiries and requests;

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  • To comply with and enforce applicable legal requirements, agreements, and policies; and

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LEGAL BASES FOR PROCESSING YOUR INFORMATION

If applicable in your jurisdiction, we only process your personal information where we have an applicable legal basis for doing so. Our legal basis will depend on the personal information concerned, the specific context in which we collect it, and the purposes for which it is used. However, we will normally collect and use your personal information only where we have your consent to do so (typically in order to send you marketing communications), where we require the personal information to create or perform a contract with you or a company with which you are associated, or where the processing is in our legitimate interests and not overridden by your data protection interests or fundamental rights and freedoms (for most of our activities not covered by consent or creation or performance of a contract). In some very rare cases, we may also have a legal basis to collect or use your personal information to protect your vital interests or those of another person.

If you have specific questions about or need further information concerning the legal basis on which we collect and use your personal information, please contact us using the information provided in the section below entitled “How to Contact Us.“

HOW WE COLLECT PERSONAL INFORMATION

  • We collect information that you give us.  Typically, this is contact information for you and your company or employer that we collect directly from you, such as when you request information about our offerings via our Website or at a trade show, or provide us your contact information as a billing or vendor contact. In such instances, you generally decide how much information to share with us, but not providing this information may prevent us from fulfilling your request or otherwise performing activities for which the information is collected.

  • We collect information automatically.  By visiting and interacting with our Website, we collect certain technical data by automated means such as your IP address, browser type and version, operating system, information about your activity on the Website, the date and time you access the Website, and your indicated preferences in using our Website. In most cases, this information is collected through our web server logs or is collected through various tracking technologies, which may include “cookies,” and “web beacons”. You can read about how we use cookies and other tracking technologies and about your choices in limiting their use in the section below entitled “Cookies.”

  • Information from other sources:  We may obtain information about you from other sources. For example, your employer may provide us with your contact information as your employer’s billing contact.

SHARING YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION

We do not sell or rent your personal information, nor do we share it with unaffiliated third parties for their own marketing use. Generally, we share personal information to facilitate the operation of our business including the marketing and promotion of our goods and services, to facilitate changes to or transfers of our business, as required by law, or with your consent.

Here are some examples of how we share personal information:

  • Within our group of affiliated companies (e.g. parent, subsidiaries) consistent with this Notice.

  • With our contracted providers who perform services for us such as cloud infrastructure, data storage, communications, and technical services, marketing and relations management services, investigations and accounting services, customer support, and bill collection services. Such providers are obligated to only use the information as necessary to provide the contracted services to us.

  • If we believe disclosure is necessary and appropriate to prevent physical, financial, or other harm, injury, or loss, including to protect against fraud or credit risk.

  • With legal, governmental, or judicial authorities, as instructed or required by those authorities or applicable laws, or in relation to a legal activity, such as in response to a subpoena or investigating suspected illicit activity. We reserve the right to report to law enforcement agencies activities that we in good faith believe to be illegal.

  • In connection with, or during negotiations of, an acquisition, merger, asset sale, or other similar business transfer that involves substantially all of our assets or functions where personal information is transferred or shared as part of the business assets (provided that such party agrees to use such personal information in a manner that is consistent with this Notice).

COOKIES

Cookies are small files that are stored on your device when you visit a website. We use cookies to do a number of things such as remember your preferences, enable certain features of our Website you may choose to use, and analyze in an aggregated manner visitor activity on our Website. Cookies do not themselves store information that identifies you, but they are often used in a manner that they can be associated with you. There are other similar technical means that serve a similar purpose such as web beacons and our reference to cookies is intended to cover these as well.

Here are the types of cookies you may encounter in using our Website:

Strictly Necessary – these are required by our website to perform certain functions such as allowing you to log in to an account;

Functional – these help to improve your experience by doing things like remembering certain preferences you have set; and

Analytic – these are used to analyze, in an aggregated manner, the way our Website is used so that we can improve the Website and our offerings. We use Google Analytics for this purpose.

Managing Cookies

Most Internet browser settings will allow you to accept, reject, delete and otherwise manage cookies. You can find more information about this at www.allaboutcookies.org. Many browsers also allow you to avoid receiving cookies by browsing using the browser’s anonymous usage setting. Blocking our strictly necessary cookies will prevent certain functions of our website from working properly or at all. In addition to managing Google Analytics by managing its cookies, you can deactivate Google Analytics by using a browser plug-in found here.

California – Do Not Track Disclosure: Our Website does not respond to Do Not Track signals. You may, however, disable certain tracking as discussed above (e.g., by disabling cookies). For more information about Do Not Track signals, please click here.

SECURITY

We maintain reasonable and appropriate security measures to protect your personal information from loss, misuse, and unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration, and destruction.

RIGHTS IN PERSONAL INFORMATION

Depending on the laws of your jurisdiction, you may have the following rights and choices regarding our processing of your personal information:

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  • Right to data portability:  In certain instances, you may have the right to receive the personal information we provide pursuant to an access request in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format and to have us transmit that personal information to another controller.

  • Right to correct personal information:  You may have the right to correct any inaccurate personal information about you that we process.

  • Right to erasure:  In certain instances, such as when the personal information is no longer necessary in relation to the purposes for which they were collected, you may have the right to have your personal information deleted.

  • Right to restrict processing of your data: You may have the right to require that we suspend processing of your personal information (other than storing it) in certain instances, typically pending resolution of a dispute regarding the processing of your information.

  • Right to object to processing: Where we rely on certain legal bases for processing your personal information, you may have the right to object to the processing.

  • Withdrawal of consent: Where we rely on your consent as a legal basis for processing your personal information, you may withdraw that consent at any time.

  • File a complaint: You may have the right to lodge a complaint about our processing of your personal information with a supervisory (enforcement) authority in the European Economic Area.

To inquire about or exercise your rights in your personal information, you may contact us at the information provided in the section below entitled “How to Contact Us.“

RETENTION OF YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION

We will retain your personal information for the period necessary to fulfill the purposes outlined in this Notice unless a longer retention period is required or permitted by law, for legal, tax or regulatory reasons, or other legitimate and lawful business purposes.

CROSS-BORDER TRANSFERS

We are headquartered in the United States and have corporate affiliates and service providers in and outside the United States. As such, we and our affiliates and service providers may transfer your personal information to, or access it in, jurisdictions that may not provide equivalent levels of data protection as your home jurisdiction. We take steps to ensure that your personal information receives an adequate level of protection in the jurisdictions in which we and our affiliates and service providers process it.

CHILDREN’S INFORMATION

Our goods and services and Website are not intended for or directed to children under the age of 18 and we do not knowingly collect information from children. If you believe we have collected information of a child, you can notify us at the information below.

THIRD-PARTY SITES

This Notice does not apply to, nor are we responsible for, the privacy, information or other practices of any third parties, including any third party operating any site or service to which the Website links. The inclusion of a link on the Website does not imply our endorsement of the linked site or service.

HOW TO CONTACT US

You may contact us about matters pertaining to this Notice at the following:

By Email: privacy101@terranorbital.com

By Mail:

Terran Orbital Corporation
Attn: LEGAL DEPT.
15330 Barranca Parkway
Irvine, CA 92618

AMENDMENTS

We reserve the right to change, modify, add or remove portions of this Notice from time to time and in our sole discretion, but will alert you that changes have been made by indicating on this Notice the date it was last updated. When you visit this Website or provide us your personal information under circumstances covered by this Notice, you are accepting the current version of this Notice as posted on the Website at that time. We recommend that you revisit this Notice on occasion to learn of any changes.

Terms of Use & Disclaimers

Cookie Notice

Cookies are small files that are stored on your device when you visit a website. We use cookies to do a number of things such as remember your preferences, enable certain features of our Website you may choose to use, and analyze in an aggregated manner visitor activity on our Website. Cookies do not themselves store information that identifies you, but they are often used in a manner that they can be associated with you. There are other similar technical means that serve a similar purpose such as web beacons and our reference to cookies is intended to cover these as well.

Here are the types of cookies you may encounter in using our Website:

Strictly Necessary – these are required by our website to perform certain functions such as allowing you to log in to an account;

Functional – these help to improve your experience by doing things like remembering certain preferences you have set; and

Analytic – these are used to analyze, in an aggregated manner, the way our Website is used so that we can improve the Website and our offerings. We use Google Analytics for this purpose.

Terms of Use and Disclaimers

Terran Orbital Corporation Website User Agreement and Disclaimers

Please read the following terms and conditions carefully before using this Website or any of our other Websites. By accessing or using our sites, you agree to the following terms and conditions. You should review these terms and conditions regularly as they may change at any time at our sole discretion. If you do not agree to any term or condition, you should not access or otherwise use our sites. The following terms and conditions apply to all of our Websites, including any Websites owned, operated or sponsored by any of our subsidiaries or affiliates. Together with our subsidiaries and affiliates, we may be referred to herein as the “Company.” “Content” refers to any materials, documents, images, graphics, logos, design, audio, video and any other information provided from or on our Websites.

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A Website that links to our Website:

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We do not want to receive confidential or proprietary information from you through our Website. If you transmit to or post on our Website any material, data, information or idea by any means, it will be treated as non-confidential and non-proprietary and may be disseminated or used by us for any purpose. Personal data provided to us will be handled in accordance with our policies regarding privacy.

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Your Use of Our Website is Restricted

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Our Website and its content are owned and operated by us. The text, images, graphics, sound files, animation files, video files, and their arrangement on our Website is all subject to copyright and other intellectual property protection.

Our Website’s content is copyrighted and protected by U.S. and worldwide copyright laws and treaty provisions. In addition, our Website content is protected by trademark laws, the laws of privacy and publicity, and communications regulations and statutes.

No content from www.TerranOrbital.com, or any other Website owned, operated, licensed or controlled by us may be copied, reproduced, republished, modified, uploaded, posted, transmitted, or distributed in any way. You also may not, without our permission, “mirror” any material contained on our Website on any other server. The sole exceptions to these restrictions are:

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Violation of these restrictions will be a violation of one or more laws and is expressly prohibited by law. If you violate these restrictions, you may be subject to civil and criminal penalties. If we grant you permission to waive these restrictions, the permission terminates automatically if you breach any of these terms or conditions. Upon termination, you must immediately destroy any downloaded materials and printed materials.

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You Must Obey Local Laws in Accessing Our Web Site

This site is controlled by us from our offices within the United States of America. We make no representation that content or materials in the site are appropriate or available for use in other jurisdictions. Access to our Website content or materials from jurisdictions where such access is illegal or prohibited. If you choose to access this site from other jurisdictions, you do so on your own initiative and are responsible for compliance with applicable local laws. We are not responsible for any law violations. You may not use or export the materials in this site in violation of U.S. export laws and regulations. Any claims relating to our Website and its content and materials shall be governed by the laws of the State of California without giving effect to any principles of conflicts of laws. You agree that any legal action or proceeding between us for any purpose concerning this Agreement or the parties’ obligations shall be brought exclusively in a federal or state court in California.

You are Bound by Changes in this Agreement’s Terms and Conditions

We may at any time revise these terms and conditions by updating this posting. By using our Website, you agree to be bound by any such revisions and should therefore periodically visit this page to determine the then current Terran Orbital WebSite User Agreement and Disclaimers to which you are bound. Certain provisions of these terms and conditions may be superseded by other legal notices or terms located on parts of our Website. In the event of a conflict between the terms and conditions of this Agreement and the terms and conditions of any other written agreement between Terran Orbital and its customers or vendors, the express terms and conditions of the latter agreement shall prevail.

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Third Parties May Have Rights Under This Agreement

Some of the provisions of this Agreement are for the benefit of Terran Orbital and its officers, directors, employees, agents, licensors, and suppliers. Each of these individuals or entities shall have the right to assert and enforce those provisions directly against you on its own behalf.

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Miscellaneous

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