Watch NASA launch a satellite into an experimental lunar orbit
NASA will launch a small satellite with a big mission on Monday
The CAPSTONE satellite will enter a previously unseen orbit around the moon, which NASA intends to use for future lunar outposts.
Rocket Lab, based in New Zealand, will launch the satellite with one of its Electron rockets
At Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems Inc. in Irvine, California, team members install solar panels on the CAPSTONE spacecraft
CAPSTONE stands for Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment.
The CAPSTONE craft is a small Cube Sat satellite that will be launched as a test for NASA's planned lunar Gateway.
The plan is to launch the small trailblazing satellite into a type of orbit around the moon known as a near rectilinear halo orbit
Over a seven-day cycle, this complex orbit brings the satellite close to the moon at times and far away at others,
This is the planned orbit for an eventual outpost called Gateway orbiting the moon, as it is a stable orbit that can be maintained with little power.
The CAPSTONE satellite is being sent to test it and see if it works as well in practice as it does in theory.
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