A little while ago, NASA’s CAPSTONE satellite was launched atop a Rocket Lab Electron rocket from the base in New Zealand. For about six days, the rocket’s upper Photon stage will carry CAPSTONE toward the Moon and then separate and let it travel for more than four months. Eventually, this CubeSat-class satellite will enter a so-called near-rectilinear halo orbit (NRHO) to study its dynamics for at least six months. This is the orbit into which NASA’s Lunar Gateway, a crucial element of the Artemis program, is scheduled to be placed, so there’s the need to check for unexpected problems, which includes communications.
Blogs about Rocket Lab’s activities
A few hours ago, Rocket Lab’s first attempt to use a Sikorsky S-92 helicopter to catch the first stage of its Electron rocket while it was returning to the ground during a mission called “There And Back Again” was successful. The goal is a controlled transport of the first stage to the ground in order to reuse it. After catching it, the pilot found that the load had different characteristics from those experienced during the tests and let go of the first stage, which splashed down and was recovered by Rocket Lab’s ship.