NASA teams have successfully succeeded in stopping the CAPSTONE spacecraft from spinning after a month. Here’s what had happened.
NASA has finally managed to save its spacecraft that was spinning itself to death! A month ago on September 8, NASA’s CAPSTONE spacecraft had suffered an issue which caused the spacecraft to spin uncontrollably. It caused the spacecraft to spin even beyond the capacity of the onboard reaction wheels to control and counter. Later, data revealed that it was most likely caused due to a valve-related issue in one of the spacecraft’s eight thrusters. NASA explained that the partially open valve means the thruster can produce thrust whenever the propulsion system gets pressurized.
Thankfully, a trajectory correction manoeuvre on September 7 has finally helped to stop NASA’s CAPSTONE spacecraft spinning due to an issue that the onboard reaction wheel could not control or counter. After the emergence of the issues, the mission team of CAPSTONE extensively reviewed telemetry and simulation data to conduct multiple tests on the spacecraft in order to design a plan to fix the issue of the spacecraft’s spin.
“Recovery commands were executed Friday morning. Initial telemetry from CAPSTONE and observation data points to a successful maneuver, indicating the spacecraft has stopped its spin and regained full 3-axis attitude control, meaning CAPSTONE’s position is controlled without unplanned rotation,” NASA confirmed via blog. After clearing the hurdle, CAPSTONE has now oriented its solar arrays to the Sun as well as adjusted the pointing of its antennas to provide a better data connection to Earth.
CAPSTONE which is short for – Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment – is owned by Advanced Space on behalf of NASA. “CAPSTONE launched on June 28, 2022 aboard a Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket from the company’s Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand to test cutting-edge tools for mission planning and operations, paving the way and expanding opportunities for small and more affordable space and exploration missions to the Moon, Mars and other destinations throughout the solar system,” NASA explained about the mission.
Now, CAPSTONE spacecraft remains on its track to insert into its targeted near rectilinear halo orbit at the Moon on November 13. However, in the coming days, the CAPSTONE team will keep an eye on the spacecraft status and make any needed adjustments. The mission team will also work to design possible fixes for this valve-related issue to avoid any future risks.