After arrival at the Moon, CAPSTONE will begin its 6-month-long primary mission. CAPSTONE will validate a near rectilinear halo orbit’s characteristics by demonstrating how to enter into and operate while in the orbit. (Credits: NASA/Rocket Lab/Advanced Space)

A microwave oven-sized CubeSat weighing just 55 pounds will serve as the first spacecraft to test a unique, elliptical lunar orbit as part of NASA’s Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE).

This capability could enable future technology demonstrations to perform on their own without support from the ground and allow ground-based antennas to prioritize valuable science data over more routine operational tracking.

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