NASA loses contact with spacecraft, now attempting to recover it

NASA's CAPSTONE mission to support the Artemis program by working on the Lunar Gateway has experienced a communications blackout and is now in safe mode.

NASA loses contact with spacecraft, now attempting to recover it
Published Sep 13, 2022 7:20 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Oct 4 2022 3:16 AM CDT
1 minute & 23 seconds read time

The satellite for NASA's Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) mission experienced communications difficulties on September 8th.

NASA loses contact with spacecraft, now attempting to recover it 02

The satellite is owned and operated by Advanced Space, and mission controllers could not receive any telemetry data the satellite was attempting to send for roughly 24 hours. The issue arose around the time the satellite began its third trajectory correction maneuver (TCM-3). Towards the end of the maneuver, it suffered an anomaly that led to uncontrollable changes in the spacecraft's attitude (its pitch, yaw, and roll).

Once the combined operations team re-established communication and received telemetry data, it was clear the satellite was still in an unstable configuration. Its solar panels were also making less power than the spacecraft needs, making it no longer power positive. As such, the teams from NASA Deep Space Network, Terran Orbital, and Advanced Space declared an operational emergency on the evening of September 8th.

The teams reconfigured the spacecraft while they worked out the cause of the problems and how to restore other functions, and managed to place it into safe mode and return it to a stable configuration. The configuration allows its solar panels to be partially illuminated, and it is now power positive again, making more power than it needs to run.

The teams are now focused on recovery plans, working to determine the cause of the anomaly, and improve the thermal situation of various subsystems, such as the propulsion subsystem, following the anomaly. The team is also preparing a detumble operation to regain attitude control of the vehicle.

Read more: NASA celebrates reconnecting with a recently lost spacecraft

Read more: NASA satellite breaks Earth's orbit, will approach the moon

Adam grew up watching his dad play Turok 2 and Age of Empires on a PC in his computer room, and learned a love for video games through him. Adam was always working with computers, which helped build his natural affinity for working with them, leading to him building his own at 14, after taking apart and tinkering with other old computers and tech lying around. Adam has always been very interested in STEM subjects, and is always trying to learn more about the world and the way it works.

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