CAPSTONE communications restored

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WASHINGTON — Spacecraft controllers have restored communications with a lunar cubesat that went silent shortly after its deployment earlier this week.

NASA and Advanced Space, the company operating the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) cubesat, said the spacecraft started transmitting again early July 6. The spacecraft stopped communicating about 11 hours after its July 4 deployment from Rocket Lab’s Lunar Photon transfer vehicle.

Both the agency and the company said the root cause of the communications malfunction remains under investigation. After troubleshooting, controllers received a signal from the spacecraft at 9:26 a.m. Eastern and full telemetry from it nearly an hour later, confirming that the spacecraft was in good condition.

“Through the work over the last day, the team has high confidence that the issue has been cleared and through changes to the configuration and operations it will not happen again,” Advanced Space said in a statement about the spacecraft’s status. NASA, in its own statement, said the loss of contact “was triggered during commissioning activities of the communications system” based on ground-based testing.

The interruption in communications led controllers to postpone CAPSTONE’s first trajectory correction maneuver, which was scheduled for July 5. NASA and Advanced Space said that maneuver is now scheduled for approximately 11:30 a.m. Eastern July 7. The spacecraft is still on track to enter the near-rectilinear halo orbit around the moon on Nov. 13.

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