Japan’s space agency JAXA has announced that it has successfully used steam to propel its spacecraft, which was launched as one of the payloads for NASA’s Orion spacecraft.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said, “This is the first successful control of a low-Earth orbit using a water jet propulsion system.”
The water-powered Balance Moon-Earth Point 6U (EQUULEUS) spacecraft completed the necessary maneuvers to enter its planned orbit toward the second Earth-Moon Lagrange point (EML2). From the Moon, the Japanese Space Agency confirmed. More.
“As a result of in-orbit control and orbit corrections before and after the lunar flyby, the lunar flyby was completed as planned on Nov. 22 JST,” JAXA said on Saturday.
Lagrangian points are positions in space where gravity and centrifugal force balance each other.
At this point, the gravity balance allows the spacecraft to stay in place.
Researchers are particularly interested in EML 2 as a candidate construction site for a deep space airport for future exploration.
Experts have noted that an extended stay in EML 2 beyond the Moon could provide significant radiation shielding for long-duration missions.
“The spacecraft launched from EML2 can move into various orbits such as Earth orbits, lunar orbits, and interplanetary orbits with a small amount of orbital control,” Jaksa explained.
EQUULEUS is scheduled to reach the EML2 Lagrange point in approximately 1.5 years.
It is developed to demonstrate low energy path control techniques to reach EML2.
“We hope to test this technology to get to that point using less fuel,” JAXA said.
It studies phenomena caused by electromagnetic disturbances in the solar wind and measures the plasma in the Earth-Moon system.
“It was a difficult operation that had to be successful,” said Rio Fanasse, a JAXA’s Institute of Space and Astronautical Sciences professor.
“I am proud of the EQUULEUS operations team for being able to quickly perform the orbital controls required for a lunar launch, just one day after the post-launch inspection operation,” said Dr. Funas.
The spacecraft will also observe near-Earth objects (NEOs) such as asteroids, comets, small moons, and lunar impact flares.
It also has an ultra-high-speed camera, a dust sensor, and an ultraviolet telescope.
“It was because of their careful preparation, including multiple backup plans and the ability to respond flexibly through training, that we were successful in this critical operation. We are at the starting line of the journey to the Lagrange point. Dr. Fonsi said.
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