Advanced Space Completes Milestone Testing for its Mission to the Moon. Mission will be the first to future Artemis Operation Orbit.
WESTMINSTER, Colo., Feb. 18, 2022 – Last week, Advanced Space LLC, a leading commercial space technology solutions business, completed a successful test for CAPSTONE, a NASA-funded lunar mission. The CAPSTONE mission, a Gateway trailblazer, is owned and operated by Advanced Space. NASA’s Artemis missions, which would establish a long-term human presence on the Moon, will be supported by the Gateway, a lunar orbiting base. The Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) is a Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment. By evaluating breakthrough technologies and verifying the dynamics of the Earth-Moon halo orbit where the Gateway will operate, it will assist to reduce risk for future spacecraft.
The Advanced Space team conducted the fourth Operational Readiness Test (ORT-4) for the CAPSTONE mission, simulating a week of real-time mission operations in a Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit (NRHO), which is the designated orbit for Gateway, which is being developed by NASA and its international and commercial partners. The Gateway will give astronauts access to the moon’s surface and serve as a launch pad for deep space missions. It will have astronaut living quarters, a scientific and research lab, and ports for visiting spaceships.
CAPSTONE will be one of the first CubeSats to fly in cislunar orbit and the first spacecraft to fly in this NRHO. It will make a low-energy ballistic lunar transfer and employ solar perturbations to drastically reduce the mission’s propulsion requirements. It will also put Advanced Space’s CAPS (Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System) peer-to-peer navigation system to the test, using crosslink measurements with NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to identify its position without relying on ground stations. NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research program is funding CAPS. CAPS may enable autonomous satellite navigation in cislunar orbit, assisting in the long-term propulsion of humans beyond Earth.
“These tests confirm our Advanced Space team is ready for launch,” said Bradley Cheetham, Advanced Space CEO. “We are excited to partner with NASA on this historic Moon mission. CAPSTONE will change the way we explore space,” Cheetham added.
Previous tests had previously replicated NRHO activities, but the increased testing of CAPS crosslink procedures for Advanced Space’s ORT-4 was an interesting addition. Operators generate suitable directives, such as telling the spacecraft where to point, as part of the CAPS planning procedures in order to carry out the CAPS activities onboard the spacecraft. Operators also performed real-time simulations of CAPS measurements on flight-like hardware in ORT-4.
“Our technology is a breakthrough for how NASA and other customers can navigate in space,” said Dr. Jeff Parker, co-founder of Advanced Space, Chief Technology Officer, and author of the book Low-Energy Lunar Trajectory Design. “Each time we have a test event, our lessons learned and ideas for improvements to our system allow us to better prepare for flight operations.”
ORT-4’s main goals were to demonstrate scripts and processes for Maneuver Planning and Payload Planning, as well as to put the Operations crew through its paces in nominal and contingency NRHO operations. Anomalies were also added into the test to put the Operations team to the test and expose them to probable contingency situations they might encounter in flight.
With the mission targeted for this Spring, these tests and constant communications with our partners like Tyvak, the spacecraft manufacturer, and Rocket Lab, the launch provider, are critical and increasing the level of excitement.
Advanced Space of Colorado owns the satellite and is responsible for overall mission operations. Mission partners include:
- NASA: CAPSTONE’s development is supported by the Space Technology Mission Directorate via the Small Spacecraft Technology Program and the Small Business Innovation Research program at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. Advanced Exploration Systems within NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate supports the launch and mission operations. NASA’s Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for launch management.
- Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems: Spacecraft design, development and implementation,hardware manufacturing, assembly, and testing and mission operations support.
- Stellar Exploration: Propulsion subsystem provider.
- Rocket Lab USA, Inc.: Launch provider that will launch CAPTONE on a three-stage Electron launch vehicle.
- Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL): Communication,tracking, and telemetry downlink via NASA’s Deep Space Network, Iris radio design and groundbreaking 1-way navigation algorithms.
- Space Dynamics Lab (SDL): Iris radio and navigation firmware provider.
- Orion Space Solutions (formerly Astra): Chip Scale Atomic Clock (CSAC) hardware provider necessary for the 1-way ranging experiment.
Advanced Space (https://advancedspace.com/) supports the exploration, development, and settlement of space through software and services that leverage unique subject matter expertise to improve the fundamentals of spaceflight.
SOURCE Advanced Space