Satellite producer Terran Orbital has been distinguished by a voting body for its lunar-orbiting CAPSTONE spacecraft.
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Small Spacecraft Technical Committee recognized the CAPSTONE endeavor as Mission of the Year for its achievement in structural design modification, instrument development and communications facilitation, the Boca Raton, Florida-based company said Monday.
Marc Bell, CEO, chairman and co-founder of Terran Orbital, expressed the company’s honor in receiving the award, and thanked NASA, with whom the satellite manufacturers have worked closely on the CAPSTONE project under the auspices of the Artemis initiative.
Bell also credited the engineers who have labored over the spacecraft and who are now directing the ship to the Moon.
The mission of the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, or CAPSTONE, is to evaluate and confirm the calculated orbital stability needed for the Lunar Gateway space station. The 55-pound craft is scheduled to arrive in a 1,000 mile vicinity of one lunar pole on its near pass and come within 43,500 miles of the other pole at each one-week peak. Its final lunar arrival date is November 13.
Among CAPSTONE’s achievements is its status as the first spacecraft to chart a near rectilinear halo orbit, which intends to strike an exact balance point in the gravitational zones of Earth and the Moon. By completing this experimental test run, CAPSTONE is poised to ensure that future crafts traveling this orbit will not run into any surprises.
In July, Terran Orbital completed the first statistical maneuvers, in the form of a TCM burn, to enable a stable course for the CAPSTONE’s mission.