Max Q: Grounded

Hello and welcome back to Max Q. By the time you read this, we’ll be less than 24 hours away from the release of the first images captured by James Webb Space Telescope. In this issue:

NASA’s CAPSTONE CubeSat is “happy and healthy” after reestablishing communications with Earth, bringing to an end a nerve-wracking 24-hour period in which the spacecraft was out of touch with ground communications.

Loss of communication occurred just one day after CAPSTONE deployed from Rocket Lab’s Lunar Photon booster. CAPSTONE was operating as normal for the first 11 hours after its detachment from Photon, successfully deploying its solar arrays and communicating with a Deep Space Network (DSN) ground station in Madrid, Spain. (DNS is an international series of massive radio antennas operated by NASA for supporting deep space missions.)

Image Credits: NASA / Daniel Rutter

Rocket Lab is launching a new program to allow satellite customers to turn up with their payload and have it in orbit in as little as 24 hours.

“From that point on, Rocket Lab remains in a state of readiness with rockets and satellites on standby, awaiting a notice from the customer to integrate and launch,” the company said. “From arrival at the launch site, payload integration, encapsulation and launch can be completed in as little as 24 hours.”

Image Credits: Sam Toms and Simon Moffatt


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