(ORDO NEWS) — On Tuesday, NASA launched into outer space a nanosatellite just the size of a microwave oven as part of an important mission to return humans to the moon.
A rocket with a tiny CAPSTONE module successfully launched from the east of New Zealand. Peninsula Mahia under a deafening explosion and a stream of fiery thrust.
“We’ve started!” NASA said in a statement shortly after the launch at 0955 GMT that Bradley Smith, Director of NASA Launch Services, called “absolutely fantastic.”
“This incredible team just sent a CAPSTONE on a ballistic trajectory. into lunar orbit,” he said.
If all goes well, in four months CAPSTONE will be able to launch innovative “near-rectilinear halo orbits” around the moon in the shape of a surfboard.
The satellite weighs about the same as a suitcase and is on a trial orbit of NASA’s Gateway space station, which will travel around the moon and serve as the starting point for lunar exploration.
The orbit passes within 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) of the Moon at its closest point, and then catapults 43,500 miles (70,000 kilometers) at its furthest point.
Scientists hope the orbit will be super-efficient, using the pull of both the Moon and Earth to minimize fuel use.
As part of the same project, the United States eventually plans to place the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon.
NASA also plans to build a lunar base and use this experience as a springboard for a manned mission to Mars.
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