WhatsNew2Day
Latest News And Breaking Headlines

NASA hopes New Zealand launch will pave way for moon landing

NASA hopes New Zealand launch paves the way for moon landing

Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket is on the launch pad on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula, in this photo from May 17, 2022. NASA plans to send a satellite to orbit a new moon, which will it hopes to use in the coming years to once again land astronauts on the lunar surface. Credit: Rocket Lab from AP

NASA wants to experiment with a new orbit around the moon that it hopes to use in the coming years to land astronauts on the lunar surface again.

So it’s sending a test satellite from New Zealand, with launch scheduled for late Tuesday. If successful, the Capstone CubeSat satellite — only about the size of a microwave oven — will be the first to chart the new path around the moon, sending back vital information for at least six months.

Technically, the new orbit is called an almost rectilinear halo orbit. It is an elongated egg shape with one end running close to the moon and the other far away from it.

Imagine you are pulling a rubber band from your thumb back. Your thumb would represent the moon and the rubber band the flight path.

“It will have balance. Poise. Balance,” NASA wrote on its website. “This groundbreaking CubeSat will practically be able to sit back and rest on a gravitational sweet spot in space — where the Earth’s and Moon’s gravitational forces interact to allow for a near-stable orbit.”

Ultimately, NASA plans to place a space station called Gateway in the orbital path, from which astronauts can descend to the surface of the moon as part of the Artemis program.

For the satellite mission, NASA is working with two commercial companies. The California-based Rocket Lab will launch the rocket carrying the satellite, which in turn is owned and operated by Colorado-based Advanced Space.

NASA hopes New Zealand launch paves the way for moon landing

Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket is on the launch pad on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula, in this photo from May 10, 2022. NASA plans to send a satellite to orbit a new moon, which will it hopes to use in the coming years to once again land astronauts on the lunar surface. Credit: Rocket Lab from AP

The mission came about relatively quickly and cheaply for NASA, with a total mission cost of $32.7 million.

Putting the 25-kilogram (55-pound) satellite into orbit will take more than four months and will happen in three phases.

First, Rocket Lab’s tiny Electron rocket will be launched from New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula. After just nine minutes, the second phase, called Photon, will separate and go into orbit. For five days, Photon’s engines will fire periodically to raise its orbit farther and farther from Earth.

Six days after launch, Photon’s engines will fire for the last time, allowing it to escape Earth’s orbit and go to the moon.

Photon will then release the satellite, which has its own small propulsion system but won’t expend much energy as it sails to the moon in four months, with a few planned course corrections along the way.

Rocket Lab spokesman Morgan Bailey said it was the most ambitious and complex mission it has undertaken to date and comes after more than two years of work with NASA and Advanced Space. She said it is the first time Rocket Lab has tested its HyperCurie engine that will be used to power Photon.

“No doubt a lot of difficult issues to solve along the way, but we ticked them off one by one and made it to launch day,” Bailey said.

Bailey said one of the benefits of the orbit is that, in theory, a space station should be able to maintain continuous communication with Earth because it will prevent it from being eclipsed by the moon.


NASA completes moon rocket test; to set the launch date after the fix


© 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Quote: NASA hopes New Zealand launch clears the way for moon landing (June 2022, June 28), retrieved June 28, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-06-nasa-zealand-pave-moon. html

This document is copyrighted. Other than fair dealing for personal study or research, nothing may be reproduced without written permission. The content is provided for informational purposes only.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More