CAPSTONE update from #smallsat: spacecraft is performing well, nearing apogee later this month. Insertion into near-rectilinear halo orbit on Nov. 13. Used less propellant than planned.
The AIAA small satellite technical committee announces the smallsat mission of the year at #smallsat: CAPSTONE.
CAPSTONE Mission: 10 September 2022 UpdateSep 10, 2022 | CAPSTONE MissionThe CAPSTONE spacecraft was executing a planned trajectory correction maneuver Thursday evening, September 8th. We have since obtained telemetry that confirms the vehicle suffered an anomaly near the end of the planned maneuver and is currently in safe mode. The CAPSTONE mission team has good knowledge of the state and status of the spacecraft. The anomaly resolution has been enabled by the exceptional support of the team at NASA’s Deep Space Network. The mission operations team is in contact with the vehicle and working to resolve the anomaly. As resolution efforts progress, more updates will be provided. The spacecraft remains on its planned course to the Moon.
CAPSTONE Mission: 12 September 2022 UpdateSep 12, 2022 | CAPSTONE MissionOn September 10th we provided an update on the CAPSTONE mission and below are updated details on the situation.This is a dynamic operational situation, and the below details are provided based on our best knowledge at time of release. Updates to below information will be provided as we learn more.During or shortly after the third trajectory correction maneuver (TCM-3) on September 8th, the spacecraft suffered an anomaly that resulted in the vehicle attitude rates growing beyond the capacity of the on-board reaction wheels to control and counter. The vehicle was attempting to communicate with the ground for approximately 24 hours before any telemetry was recovered. At the point of recovery, the spacecraft was not in a stable configuration, it was not power positive, and the system was experiencing periodic resets.Navigation data collected after the anomaly suggests that the maneuver was completed or nearly complete when the anomaly occurred. This means the spacecraft remains on the intended trajectory and on course to the near rectilinear halo orbit at the Moon.After the planned TCM-3 maneuver, the spacecraft did not return to ground communications as expected which provided the first indication that there might be an issue.Working with limited data, the combined operations team determined it was prudent to declare an operational emergency Thursday evening, September 8th. From this point forward, the teams at the NASA Deep Space Network, Terran Orbital, and Advanced Space have been working around the clock to work the problem, understand what is happening on the spacecraft, and identify options to recover the spacecraft to normal operations.Rapid response enabled by the Deep Space Network support and quick thinking by the team at Terran Orbital allowed mission operators to quickly reconfigure the operational state of the spacecraft to stabilize the situation while recovery plans could be further evaluated.Based on this exceptional effort and using the limited data available, the operations teams have determined that the spacecraft is in safe mode and appears to have successfully been placed in a stable state. The vehicle is in a rotating orientation that provides partial illumination of the solar panels and results in weak transmission signals from the spacecraft low gain antennas. Without the unique capabilities of the Deep Space Network, the mission team would have little or no information on the status of the spacecraft.Modeling of the expected orientation and state of the vehicle into the future suggests it will remain stable. The vehicle is on the orbital trajectory intended and understanding this allows for continued tracking from ground stations well into the future. The vehicle in its current configuration is power positive, meaning that it is generating more power from the solar panels than the system is utilizing.The mission operations team is currently focused on recovery plans. These efforts will begin by working to improve the thermal situation of several subsystems including the propulsion subsystem. While work is ongoing to diagnose the cause of the anomaly, the team is preparing the spacecraft to attempt a detumble operation to regain attitude control of the vehicle. This detumble operation was successfully demonstrated after separation from the launch vehicle in July. A successful detumble will result in the vehicle resuming control of its orientation, orienting the solar panels to the Sun to fully charge the batteries of the power used during the detumble. The spacecraft will then orient to the ground and await further instructions. These recovery operations will be further evaluated over the coming days. Recovery timing will be guided by the data and analysis available to maximize the probability of a successful spacecraft operation.The combined mission team including the Deep Space Network, Terran Orbital, Stellar Exploration, and Advanced Space have been working in a disciplined and collaborative way to stabilize the CAPSTONE spacecraft and prepare for recovery. Many details remain unknown as to the cause of the anomaly and significant risks are continuing to be analyzed.Everyone on the mission team is focused on recovering from this anomaly and continuing the important objectives of the CAPSTONE mission. As more details are available, they will be provided.We appreciate the dedicated work of all mission partners involved in these activities and the supportive messages received during this stressful time.
CAPSTONE Mission: 15 September 2022 UpdateSep 15, 2022 | CAPSTONE MissionOn September 12th, we provided an update on the CAPSTONE mission. Below is an update.CAPSTONE received some relatively good news on the recovery progress for the spacecraft. The communications situation has dramatically improved, the power state of the spacecraft appears to be sufficient for continuous (duty cycled) heating of the propulsion system which dropped below its operational temperature, Over the past few days, CAPSTONE’s power – though limited by the orientation of the spacecraft in its spin relative to the Sun – appears to be sufficient for heating of the propulsion system. When the spacecraft propulsion system temps are at +5C for 12+ hours the system will be further evaluated for use in the recovery operation. Information on the cause of the anomaly has been obtained and is being evaluated, and recovery plans that mitigate risk of further anomalous behavior are being developed. We do not have a timeline for a recovery attempt, but the team is working hard to make progress guided by what we are learning from the data with an explicit goal to minimize further risk to the mission.The spacecraft continues on its planned path to the Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit around the Moon.We are effusively grateful to the teams at the Deep Space Network, NASA, Terran Orbital, and Advanced Space who have supported this ongoing effort continuously over the past 5 days. Without the quick action and dedicated attention of all of these exceptional individuals, the CAPSTONE mission would likely have been lost due to this anomaly. As it stands today, the vehicle is stable, and the combined mission operations team is working towards attempting a recovery operation.This remains a dynamic and changing situation. We are focused on working the technical situation with an emphasis on disciplined analysis supporting a well thought out recovery attempt. The success of the CAPSTONE mission remains our primary focus. As we are able to, we will continue to share information on progress.
Update from the CAPSTONE team today:
Has NASA / the CAPSTONE team identified what the "initial issue" was that put the spacecraft into safe mode? If so, what is it?While work is still ongoing reviewing data on the exact root cause of the anomaly, we believe the most likely cause of the spacecraft losing attitude control and entering its current state originated from an unexpected thruster firing at the end of the planned Trajectory Correction Maneuver.
Over the weekend, CAPSTONE successfully commanded its heating system above its minimum required temperature of 41° F (5° C) while maintaining positive power generation. The CAPSTONE Operations team will attempt an operation to stop CAPSTONE’s spin, the next major step in returning the spacecraft to normal operation.
Over the past week, the CAPSTONE spacecraft was able to improve thermal conditions for the propellant and other critical systems while maintaining positive power generation. The operations team has been performing ground and spacecraft testing in preparation for an attempt to stop CAPSTONE’s spin. This operation would return the spacecraft to normal status and will be attempted when preparations and testing are complete.
CAPSTONE Mission: 21 September 2022 UpdateSep 21, 2022 | CAPSTONE MissionCAPSTONE Mission UpdateOn September 15th, we provided an update on the CAPSTONE mission. Below is a new update.Over the weekend, CAPSTONE successfully commanded its heating system above its minimum required temperature of 41° F (5° C) while maintaining positive power generation. The CAPSTONE Operations team will attempt an operation to stop CAPSTONE’s spin, the next major step in returning the spacecraft to normal operation.