NASA Moon Probe back from 11-day Without Communications

A space probe that would not obey commands was the subject of a nearly two-week battle between NASA engineers.

NASA revealed in a blog post(opens in new tab) on Wednesday that CAPSTONE, an experimental spacecraft at the moon 

intended to test an orbit for the proposed Gateway space station, did not hear communications from Earth for 11 days (Feb. 8).

The problem with CAPSTONE started on January 26 and continued throughout, according to the agency, who also noted that the spacecraft continued to send telemetry data back to Earth. 

But on Monday, February 6, the spacecraft rebooted itself, enabling it to once again respond to commands from Earth.

The drama CAPSTONE (short for "Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment") has experienced on its mission is not new,

demonstrating the difficulties in managing a cubesat-sized mission in a hostile environment close to the moon.

On June 28, 2022, CAPSTONE successfully launched aboard a Rocket Lab Electron booster while being operated by Advanced Space and Terran Orbital for NASA.

On July 4, however, while performing a stage separation manoeuvre, the team lost contact with the probe.

It only took a day to resolve that problem, but two months later, during an engine burn to adjust the spacecraft's trajectory, another problem cropped up.

The spacecraft was briefly forced into a protective safe mode as a result of that issue.

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