NASA Launches a Nanosatellite in a Landmark Mission to Return to the Moon

NASA Launches a Nanosatellite in a Landmark Mission to Return to the Moon ...

Tuesday, NASA sent a nanosatellite that was barely larger than a microwave oven into outer space as part of a historic mission to return humans to the Moon.

A rocket carrying the tiny CAPSTONE module successfully flew from New Zealand's eastern Mahia Peninsula to a terrifying blast and a wash of fiery propulsion.

"We've got liftoff," NASA said in a statement shortly after the 09:55 GMT launch, described by Bradley Smith, NASA's director of launch services, as "absolutely fantastic."

"This amazing group has just sent CAPSTONE on a ballistic path to the lunar orbit," he said.

CAPSTONE will be able to begin producing unique surfboard-shaped "near rectilinear halo orbits" around the Moon in four months.

The satellite is attempting to land a trial orbit for NASA's "Gateway" space station, which will orbit the Moon and serve as a jumping point for lunar exploration.

At its nth magnitude, the orbit passes within 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) of the Moon at its closest point, before descending to 43,500 miles (70,000 kilometers) away at its closest point.

Scientists anticipate that the solar orbit will be extremely efficient, maximizing both the Moon and the Earth's gravitational pull to minimize fuel consumption.

The United States plans to place the first woman and first person of color on the Moon as part of the same initiative.

NASA intends to construct a moonbase, and to utilize the experience as a starting point for a crewed excursion to Mars.

Agence France-Presse

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