On June 28, American company Rocket Lab successfully launched the Electron rocket carrying NASA's CAPSTONE (Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment) lunar CubeSat into Moon orbit.
CAPSTONE is a microwave oven-sized, 25-kilogram satellite that has embarked on a history-making journey to the Moon, where it will explore and test a unique, elliptical lunar orbit.
The purpose of the mission is to study the Near-Rectilinear Halo Orbit (NRHO) – a halo-shaped orbit of the Moon, which, according to scientists, should become a staging area for further lunar missions. NASA plans to use this orbit for the Gateway near-lunar orbital station, an outpost that is part of NASA's Artemis program. During the mission, CAPSTONE will test the long-term stability of this orbit.
It is expected that CAPSTONE will reach its destination by entering the lunar orbit in four months and stay there for at least six months.