NASA Ames's feature CAPSTONE’s CubeSat Prepares for Lunar Flight says
CAPSTONE will use a hydrazine-fueled propulsion system during most of its three- to four- month journey to the Moon. This line of propulsion system, developed by Stellar Exploration Inc. of San Luis Obispo, California, is a recently developed and flight-proven system developed for use on CubeSats. The team recently completed a fueling and final test-fire of CAPSTONE’s propulsion system at Stellar Exploration’s facility and is integrating the system with the spacecraft.
Question: What is actually happening in this full mission rehearsal of CAPSTONE's propulsion hardware?
- These engineers will fuel it's tank with hydrazine, but did it then fire its thrusters propulsively? Or was the catalyst not present and the hydrazine was simply vented to air?
- Was the spacecraft exposed to temperature variations that can happen during spaceflight or was it at "outdoor" ambient temperature?
- Was the mission time substantially compressed; weeks or months into hours?
The CAPSTONE team performs the full mission rehearsal of the propulsion hardware, with the qualification unit located in middle of the test stand. First, the propulsion tank is fueled with hydrazine propellant which requires the specialized protection for the operator (Level A encapsulated suits provide breathing and vapor protection for the Stellar engineers, Andrew Carlson and Sean Liston). Once the tank is filled with propellant, the full mission sequence is executed using the simulated satellite avionics and software. Credits: Stellar Exploration