Advanced Space completes milestone tests for its mission to the Moon

The fourth Operational Readiness Test (ORT-4) for the CAPSTONE mission conducted by the Advanced Space team simulated a week of real-time mission operations in near-rectilinear halo orbit (NRHO), the designated orbit for Gateway, which is being developed by NASA and its international and commercial partners. The Gateway will provide astronauts with access to the lunar surface and serve as a starting point for deep space exploration. It will include accommodation for astronauts, a laboratory for science and research, and ports for visiting spacecraft. CAPSTONE will be the first spacecraft to fly in this NRHO and one of the first CubeSats to fly in cislunar space. It will pass through a low-energy ballistic lunar transfer and use solar disturbances to significantly reduce spacecraft propulsion requirements for the mission. It will also test the peer-to-peer navigation system developed by Advanced Space, CAPS (Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System), to determine its position via cross-link measurements with NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter without relying on stations at the ground. CAPS is supported by NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research program. CAPS can enable autonomous navigation of satellites in cislunar space, helping to propel humans beyond Earth in a sustainable way.

“These tests confirm that our Advanced Space team is ready for launch,” said Bradley Cheetham, CEO of Advanced Space. “We are thrilled to partner with NASA on this historic mission to the Moon. CAPSTONE will change the way we explore space,” Cheetham added.

Previous tests also simulated NRHO operations, but an exciting addition for Advanced Space’s ORT-4 was the extensive testing of CAPS cross-linking procedures. As part of CAPS planning procedures, operators generate appropriate commands, such as telling the spacecraft where to point, in order to perform CAPS activities on board the spacecraft. Additionally, in ORT-4, operators performed real-time simulations of CAPS measurements on flight-grade hardware.

“Our technology is a breakthrough in how NASA and other customers can navigate space,” said Dr. Jeff Parker, co-founder of Advanced Space, chief technology officer and author of the book Low-Energy Lunar Trajectory Design. “Every time we have a test event, our lessons learned and our ideas for improving our system allow us to better prepare for flight operations.”

The primary objectives of ORT-4 were to demonstrate maneuver and payload planning scripts and processes and to exercise the operations team in nominal and contingency situations in NRHO operations. Additionally, test drivers injected anomalies to test the operations team and expose them to possible emergency situations they might see in flight.

With the mission targeted for this spring, this testing and constant communication with our partners like Tyvak, the spacecraft manufacturer, and Rocket Lab, the launch provider, is essential and raising the level of excitement.

Advanced area of Colorado owns the satellite and is responsible for all mission operations. Mission partners include:

  • NASA: The development of CAPSTONE is supported by the Space Technology Mission Directorate through the Small Spacecraft Technology Program and the Small Business Innovation Research Program at NASA Ames Research Center in California Silicon Valley. Advanced Exploration Systems within NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Missions Directorate supports launch and mission operations. NASA Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for managing the launch.
  • Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems: Design, development and implementation of spacecraft, manufacturing, assembly and testing of equipment and support to mission operations.
  • Stellar Exploration: Supplier of propulsion subsystems.
  • rocket lab United StatesInc.: Launch provider that will launch CAPTONE on a three-stage Electron launcher.
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL): Communication, telemetry tracking and downlink via NASA’s Deep Space Network, Iris radio design, and breakthrough one-way navigation algorithms.
  • Spatial Dynamics Laboratory (SDL): Iris radio and navigation firmware supplier.
  • Orion Space Solutions (formerly Astra): Supplier of CSAC (Chip Scale Atomic Clock) hardware needed for the one-way ranging experiment.

About Advanced Space
Advanced Space ( supports the exploration, development, and colonization of space through software and services that leverage unique subject matter expertise to enhance principles fundamentals of spaceflight. Advanced Space is dedicated to improving the development of flight dynamics technology and accelerating turnkey missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Learn more about Advanced Space; check out the details on the CAPSTONE mission page.

SOURCE Advanced Space

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