Utah State University's Deep Space Radio makes history by reaching moon orbit

Utah State University’s Deep Space Radio makes history by reaching moon orbit

LOGAN, Utah (ABC4) – A deep space radio built by Utah State Universityit is Spatial Dynamics Laboratory (SDL) is now orbiting the Moon in a program unlike any other in human history.

The radio is part of a NASA mission called Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment – or “CAPSTONE”. The USU-designed radio is aboard a class of small satellites called “CubeSat”, the first to orbit the moon in human history.

NASA said CAPSTONE’s mission is to reduce risk to future spacecraft by validating new navigation technologies and gathering new knowledge about its own unique three-body orbit. The mission is part of NASA Artemis program, which aims to bring humans back to the moon, exploring more of the lunar surface than ever before. Man last walked on the moon in 1972.

USU’s Deep Space Radio is now successfully operating aboard a Nasa CubeSat technology demonstration mission to support bridge, which is an essential component of Artemis. The Gateway program is building a small, human-powered space station in orbit around the Moon to provide support for Artemis.

NASA’s website states, “Gateway’s capabilities to support sustained deep space exploration and research include docking ports for a variety of visiting spacecraft, space for the crew lives and works, and scientific investigations on board to study heliophysics, human health and life sciences, among other fields.

The CAPSTONE spacecraft entered lunar orbit after a final maneuver at 5:39 p.m. on Nov. 13, making history as the first CubeSat to orbit Earth’s moon in a mission owned and operated by Advanced space for NASA.

The Iris radio built by Space Dynamics Lab aboard CAPSTONE would carry critical information between the satellite and operators on Earth. Its “telecommunications subsystem” is designed specifically for orbits at altitudes greater than 1,500 kilometers above the Earth.

The USU laboratory built the Iris radio to operate in the extreme temperatures and radiation environments of lunar orbit.

There would be a lot of people aboard the tiny spacecraft, which weighs about 25 kilograms and measures about 24 centimeters by 24 centimeters by 36 centimeters – nearly the size of a microwave oven. Officials call the CAPSTONE CubeSat a “pathfinder mission” for the Lunar Gateway.

Gateway’s “quasi-steady 3-body orbit” keeps the spacecraft at a precise balance point in the gravities of Earth and the Moon. When operational, Gateway will provide critical support for humanity’s long-term return to the lunar surface and provide a jumping off point for deep space exploration.

The solar-electric powered spacecraft would also include a habitation and logistics outpost, known as HALO, which will be the initial crew cabin for astronauts visiting Gateway.

“The significant increase in the number of small satellites such as CAPSTONE used for deep space missions requires robust and reliable communication systems like the Iris radio, which can transmit data to NASA’s Deep Space Network and other ‘other international ground networks,’ says CAPSTONE program manager Tim Neilsen. . “The CAPSTONE Iris radio will also perform telemetry functions to help the spacecraft navigate around its new orbit. SDL builds and tests Iris Radio technology at our NASA-certified facilities, and we are proud to support this important mission guidance for the Lunar Gateway and Artemis program.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) created the initial design for the Iris radio and transferred development and manufacturing to SDL in 2016. JPL named the radio after the mythological Greek goddess Iris, daughter of Thaumas and Electra and messenger of the gods.

Since 1959, SDL has been solving technical challenges faced by the military, scientific community and industry and supporting NASA’s mission to advance science, technology, aeronautics and space exploration to improve knowledge, education, innovation, economic vitality and stewardship. of the earth. SDL is a research laboratory headquartered in North Logan, UT, with offices in Albuquerque, NM; Colorado Springs, CO; Dayton, Ohio; Houston, TX; Huntsville, AL; Los Angeles, CA; Stafford, Virginia; and Washington, DC.

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