CAPSTONE Cider celebrates success of trailblazing satellite in lunar orbit

Stem Ciders' new CAPSTONE Cider was created in partnership with Advanced Space to celebrate the success of the company's satellite in a trailblazing orbit around the moon.
Stem Ciders' new CAPSTONE Cider was created in partnership with Advanced Space to celebrate the success of the company's satellite in a trailblazing orbit around the moon. (Image credit: Stem Ciders)

A company behind a NASA mission now at the moon is capping off its first six months in lunar orbit with an experimental cider created in its honor.

To celebrate the CAPSTONE spacecraft and its trailblazing journey around the moon, Advanced Space has collaborated with Stem Ciders on CAPSTONE, a hoppy cider with raspberry and Meyer lemon . The same path — called a "near rectilinear halo orbit" or NRHO — is where NASA plans to assemble and operate the Gateway, an astronaut-tended platform from which future Artemis crews will come and go from Earth and the moon's south pole.

CAPSTONE (the spacecraft), or the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, was launched in June 2022 to better understand the characteristics of the Gateway's planned orbit. CAPSTONE, the cider, aims to draw greater awareness around the work that Advanced Space is doing in the field of lunar exploration and commemorate the historic microwave-sized satellite as it transitions from its primary six-month operation to a year-long enhanced mission.

The beverage also highlights the partnership between two Colorado companies. Advanced Space is based in Westminster, while Stem Ciders is in Denver.

Related: CAPSTONE: A pathfinding moon cubesat for the Artemis program

"We are so thrilled to collaborate with our nearby neighbors at Stem Ciders to celebrate the first commercial CubeSat to operate at the moon," said Rex Laceby, chief of staff at Advanced Space, in a statement. "In addition to creating such a unique, pioneering cider, we hope that CAPSTONE can help to better educate Coloradoans about the exciting advancements we're making to enable the future of space exploration."

Artist's rendering and insignia representing the CAPSTONE mission in lunar orbit. (Image credit: Advanced Space / NASA/Daneil Rutter /

CAPSTONE (the cider) will debut Wednesday (April 19) at the Space Foundation's 38th Space Symposium, a conference for space industry professionals now underway at The Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs. Attendees can "capture" a can at the Terran Orbital booth from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. MDT. (Terran designed and built the CAPSTONE CubeSat operated by Advanced Space.)

CAPSTONE (the cider) will then be available in cans from Stem Ciders locations and via Vinoshipper to 38 states beginning Thursday.

Showing the same spirit of innovation as exhibited by the drink's namesake, the Stem Ciders team sought to replicate elements of the popular Hazy IPA beer style, only in cider form. Creating such a flavor profile, though, is not as simple as just tossing a bunch of hops into a cider or dry-hopping the cider, a process that Stem previously utilized in their original "Hopped" cider.

To capture the full hop essence, Patrick Combs, director of liquids at Stem Ciders, first created a hop tea to mimic the controlled heating process that takes place in the whirlpool hop addition (or the first round of hops added after the initial boil in beer). From there, the cider was conditioned on Meyer lemon, lemon zest and raspberry puree to complement the natural berry notes found in the use of Mosaic hops, along with its apple cider base.

The result is a hoppy raspberry lemon punch-like cider that captures the profile of a Hazy IPA.

"We wanted to make a fun experimental cider that also mirrored Advanced Space's ability to problem solve while pushing boundaries as a relatively small organization," said Combs.

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Robert Z. Pearlman Editor, Contributor

Robert Pearlman is a space historian, journalist and the founder and editor of, an online publication and community devoted to space history with a particular focus on how and where space exploration intersects with pop culture. Pearlman is also a contributing writer for and co-author of "Space Stations: The Art, Science, and Reality of Working in Space” published by Smithsonian Books in 2018. He previously developed online content for the National Space Society and Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, helped establish the space tourism company Space Adventures and currently serves on the History Committee of the American Astronautical Society, the advisory committee for The Mars Generation and leadership board of For All Moonkind. In 2009, he was inducted into the U.S. Space Camp Hall of Fame in Huntsville, Alabama. In 2021, he was honored by the American Astronautical Society with the Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History.