A NASA-Funded Moon Mission Is Taking Off From New Zealand Later This Year

Private aerospace company Rocket Lab announced on Friday that it plans to launch a NASA-funded commercial moon mission from New Zealand at the end of this year.

The CAPSTONE (Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment) mission will be the company’s first launch to the moon and will aid NASA’s Artemis program, which plans to send the first woman and person-of-color to the moon and establish a long-term presence there.

The launch, originally slated for earlier this year, is set to take place from Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand “to support a Q4 launch window.”

“CAPSTONE is a 55-pound satellite created by Advanced Space that will serve as the first spacecraft to test a unique, elliptical lunar orbit,” the company said in a press release, adding that the mission “will help reduce risk for future spacecraft by validating innovative navigation technologies and verifying the dynamics of this halo-shaped orbit.”

Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck said that his team was proud to support NASA in its goal of “delivering a sustainable and robust presence on the Moon.”

Several high-profile lunar trips are being planned for the near future. In June, NASA announced that it is planning a mission to the dark side of the Moon. Elon Musk‘s SpaceX hopes to launch Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa and the crew of the dearMoon mission on a fly-by past the moon in 2023, while China and Russia have expressed a desire to build a research facility and base on the moon’s surface.
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