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author_name|Kris Holt language|en-US provider_name|Engadget region|US Science site|engadget Space & Astronomy

NASA’s CAPSTONE satellite is breaking out of Earth’s orbit and heading towards the Moon


The plan to get humans back to the Moon for the first time in more than half a century has taken another step forward. The 55-pound (Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment) escaped Earth’s orbit and headed for the Moon.

It launched CAPSTONE with an Electron rocket last week. After six days of soaring burns in orbit to gain enough speed, the pathfinding satellite set out for the Moon. It’s a relatively slow ride though. CAPSTONE won’t reach the Moon until November.

NASA will attempt to place CAPSTONE in Near Linear Halo Orbit around the Moon, a feat that has never been attempted before. The agency plans to use the same orbit for what will provide support for long-term lunar missions under the program. The station will have living quarters and a laboratory for astronauts. This mission won’t start until at least 2024.

Meanwhile, NASA has targeted a launch window for the Artemis 1 mission between August 23 and September 6. It will send an uncrewed module around the Moon to assess how the journey might affect the human body. The agency ran a race for Artemis 1 in June.

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