December 6, 2021

The Japan Herald

About Japan, Global Green Energy and Space Market

The launch of CAPSTONE has been postponed until March 20, 2022

2 min read

The deployment of a NASA cubesat project that will assess the orbit that will be utilized by lunar Gateway has been pushed back to March as a result of the pandemic-related launch delays that Rocket Lab has experienced.

The Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) mission will now launch in March 2022, according to NASA’s Ames Research Center. CAPSTONE is a 12-unit cubesat constructed by Advanced Space in Colorado that will assess the stability of NASA’s near-rectilinear halo orbit, which will be used for the lunar Gateway.

The news occurred one day after NASA officials spoke at the Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium hosted by the American Astronautical Society. The mission is currently slated to launch “early next calendar year,” according to Jim Reuter, who works as the NASA associate administrator in charge of the space technology, while Andres Martinez, who works as the program executive in charge of the Advanced Exploration Systems, cited a definite no-earlier-than launch date of March 19, 2022.

Both companies declined to comment on why CAPSTONE was postponed, but Peter Beck, Rocket Lab’s CEO, stated in an interview on October 13 that the delay was part of wider delays in the business’s launch schedules due to coronavirus lockdowns in New Zealand, where the firm performs its launches.

The CAPSTONE delay, he explained, was caused by COVID. “We have no control over it.” The last time Rocket Lab launched an Electron was on July 29, when it flew a mission for the US Space Force. Between late August as well as the close of September, the business was preparing three successive Electron satellite launches for geospatial intelligence supplier BlackSky, coordinated by launch services provider Spaceflight. However, in early September, the firm announced that those and other Electron deployments had been put on hold due to lockdowns in Fresh Zealand prompted by a new wave of the epidemic.

New Zealand’s government, according to Beck, has shifted away from the “very stringent” lockdowns it had set in favour of “more conventional” lockdowns that allow space launch activities to restart. Back-to-back Electron deployments of BlackSky satellites were announced by Rocket Lab on October 11th. The first will take place between November 11 and 24, while a second will take place no sooner than November 27.

The business has not announced any more Electron launches in the near future. In a September earnings report, the firm stated that it had five launches planned for the fourth quarter, but that its official guidelines as a publicly listed corporation were that only two would happen due to client readiness and the New Zealand pandemic situation.

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