Re: psyche mission on indefinite hold

Skip to first unread message


Jun 25, 2022, 1:35:29 PMJun 25
On 6/24/2022 5:34 PM, wrote:
> The mission has been put on hold after NASA's own nav software
> development ran into some hurdles. The asteroid is interesting.
> <>
Yeah, Bummer!!
But, I suppose better to cancel early, rather than
rush to launch, just to fail.
It does not make NASA look good!

also, from

NASA Forced To Scrap Planned 2022 Launch of Psyche Asteroid Mission
By NASA JUNE 25, 2022

Psyche Collision Illustration
This artist’s illustration imagines a violent collision early in
Psyche’s history. Credit: ASU/Peter Rubin

NASA announced on Friday, June 24, 2022, that the Psyche asteroid
mission, the agency’s first mission designed to study a metal-rich
asteroid, will not make its planned 2022 launch attempt.

Due to the late delivery of the spacecraft’s flight software and testing
equipment, NASA lacks sufficient time to complete the testing required
ahead of its remaining launch period this year, which ends on October
11. The mission team needs additional time to ensure that the software
will function properly in flight.

NASA selected Psyche in 2017 as part of the agency’s Discovery Program,
a line of low-cost, competitive missions led by a single principal
investigator. The agency is forming an independent assessment team to
review the path forward for the project and for the Discovery Program.

“NASA takes the cost and schedule commitments of its projects and
programs very seriously,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator
for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “We are exploring
options for the mission in the context of the Discovery Program, and a
decision on the path forward will be made in the coming months.”

Psyche Spacecraft at the Asteroid Psyche (Illustration)
This illustration, updated in April 2022, depicts NASA’s Psyche
spacecraft. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

The independent assessment team, typically made up of experts from
government, academia, and industry, will review possible options for
next steps, including estimated costs. Implications for the agency’s
Discovery Program and planetary science portfolio also will be considered.

The spacecraft’s guidance navigation and flight software will control
the orientation of the spacecraft as it flies through space and is used
to point the spacecraft’s antenna toward Earth so that the spacecraft
can send data and receive commands. It also provides trajectory
information to the spacecraft’s solar electric propulsion system, which
begins operations 70 days after launch.

As the mission team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern
California began testing the system, a compatibility issue was
discovered with the software’s testbed simulators. In May, NASA shifted
the mission’s targeted launch date from August 1 to no earlier than
September 20 to accommodate the work needed. The issue with the testbeds
has been identified and corrected; however, there is not enough time to
complete a full checkout of the software for a launch this year.

“Flying to a distant metal-rich asteroid, using Mars for a gravity
assist on the way there, takes incredible precision. We must get it
right. Hundreds of people have put remarkable effort into Psyche during
this pandemic, and the work will continue as the complex flight software
is thoroughly tested and assessed,” said JPL Director Laurie Leshin.
“The decision to delay the launch wasn’t easy, but it is the right one.”

The mission’s 2022 launch period, which ran from August 1 through
October 11, would have allowed the spacecraft to arrive at the asteroid
Psyche in 2026. There are possible launch periods in both 2023 and 2024,
but the relative orbital positions of Psyche and Earth mean the
spacecraft would not arrive at the asteroid until 2029 and 2030,
respectively. The exact dates of these potential launch periods are yet
to be determined.

“Our amazing team has overcome almost all of the incredible challenges
of building a spacecraft during COVID,” said Psyche Principal
Investigator Lindy Elkins-Tanton of Arizona State University (ASU), who
leads the mission. “We have conquered numerous hardware and software
challenges, and we’ve been stopped in the end by this one last problem.
We just need a little more time and will get this one licked too. The
team is ready to move forward, and I’m so grateful for their excellence.”

Total life-cycle mission costs for Psyche, including the rocket, are
$985 million. Of that, $717 million has been spent to date. The
estimated costs involved to support each of the full range of available
mission options are currently being calculated.

Two ride-along projects were scheduled to launch on the same SpaceX
Falcon Heavy rocket as Psyche, including NASA’s Janus mission to study
twin binary asteroid systems, and the Deep Space Optical Communications
technology demonstration to test high-data-rate laser communications
that is integrated with the Psyche spacecraft. NASA is assessing options
for both projects.

ASU leads the Psyche mission. JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech
in Pasadena, California, is responsible for the mission’s overall
management; system engineering; integration and test; and mission
operations. Maxar is providing the high-power solar electric propulsion
spacecraft chassis. NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at the
agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is managing the launch.

Reply all
Reply to author
0 new messages