NASA has selected Rocket Lab to launch the CAPSTONE mission into orbit on the moon. The microsatellite and research platform will be sent to the Earth’s natural satellite in 2021, the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in a statement.
CAPSTONE is part of the Artemis mission, whose main goal is to return a person to the moon. The project is scheduled for 2024, it will be attended by one woman and one man. The names of the astronauts are not disclosed.
Part of the mission, which NASA entrusted to Rocket Lab, involves the launch of a 25-kg microsatellite into orbit of the Earth’s natural satellite, which will study objects rotating around it, such as asteroids, and help a manned spacecraft with astronauts on board to approach the moon safely.
It is planned that CAPSTONE will be launched with the help of an Electron rocket from the Wallops Airfield in Virginia. In the Earth’s orbit, the Photon platform will separate from the rocket, which will deliver the microsatellite to the moon’s orbit.
NASA plans to spend about $13,7 million on the development, assembly and launch of CAPSTONE. How much Rocket Lab will receive is not reported.