back to article NASA regains control of CAPSTONE lunar orbiter after a tumble

NASA is back in control of its CAPSTONE spacecraft after the lunar orbiter lost power and communications and spent weeks powered down in safe mode while tumbling through the void. Early last month, soon after the craft completed a trajectory correction maneuver on its way to orbit the Moon, ground control realized the cubesat …

  1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Just to say...

    This kind of recovery is so impressive. Hats off to the engineers involved, and beer all round, I think.

  2. Anonymous Coward


    I applaud the boffins who made this happen.

    CAPSTONE was a mission to test the near rectilinear halo orbit (NRHO) that the Artemis mission will use.

    I can only hope that the boffins working on the Artemis mission are as successful.

  3. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Shades of Gemini 8

    Even with 2 humans onboard, they didn't figure out the root cause for a while.

  4. Grunchy Silver badge

    Same thing as TNG

    The episode in which LaForge introduces Data to alien alcohol and the whole Enterprise winds up tumbling right toward Barnard’s Star. Scotty synthesizes transparent amorphous dilithium which develops a massive magnetic field and attracts all the elemental hydrogen for parsecs around, enough to slow down the craft (but only after Picard and Riker succeed in hoisting the ancient mainsail). At the last second it snaps into shape, righted the craft, and caught so many photons it slingshot Enterprise back toward Jupiter at Warp 5. Afterward they are all joking around and Rimmer and Holly appear on deck and introduce Data to Space Weed… honestly, NASA is blatantly copying Roddenberry with even its misadventures at this point.

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  7. MonsieurTM

    Ok, credit to getting it working... But....

    Given it was spinning due to a faulty valve... The reaction wheels would be at max rpm. The probe is spinning. To cancel the rotation, which might be multi-axis will require thrust and more than usual given the maxed-out reaction wheels providing excess angulat momentum. Then a further course correction would be needed as the leaking valve would have changed the course. Now perhaps the valve leaked a tiny bit, then surely the reaction wheels could have controlled it. But given the reaction wheels were maxed out, then lots of fuel would have been wasted.

    So: howuch reaction fuel is left, otherwise it is doomed anyway due to too little fuel.... Or it has huge reserves, which given launch costs seems unlikely.

    Something odd in this story....

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      My guess would be that the fuel 'tank' is not a single monolithic entity but has a way of cutting off parts of it from the rest, for just such an occasion (pinhole leak, whether caused by manufacturing defect or micrometeorite) so they would at worst lose all the fuel in only one section of the tank.

  8. Hazmoid

    Well done that support engineer!

    Given that you can't just jump in an Uber and pop around to sort this out, managing to fix this remotely is a brilliant bit of work :)

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