NASA satellite de-orbits the Earth and heads for the Moon

(ORDO NEWS) — The Capstone satellite was successfully launched six days ago from New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula by Rocket Lab on one of its small Electron rockets. It will take another four months to reach the Moon as it flies using the least amount of energy.

If the next part of the mission is successful, the Capstone satellite will be transmitting vital information for several months as it is the first to enter a new orbit around the moon.

Ultimately, NASA plans to place the Gateway space station in this orbit, from which astronauts will be able to descend to the lunar surface as part of the Artemis program.

According to Rocket Lab founder Peter Beck, the advantage of the new orbit is that it minimizes fuel consumption and allows the satellite – or space station – to maintain constant contact with the Earth.

The Electron rocket, which launched from New Zealand on June 28, carried the second Photon spacecraft, which separated nine minutes later.

For six days, the satellite was on Photon, and the spacecraft’s engines were periodically turned on to raise its orbit farther and farther from Earth.

The final engine explosion allowed Photon to break away from the Earth’s gravitational pull and send the satellite on its way.

The 25-kilogram satellite is now scheduled to circle the moon before falling back into a new lunar orbit on November 13. The satellite will use a small amount of propellant to make several planned trajectory corrections along the way.

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