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Raumfahrt - Mission zur Metallwelt von Asteroid Psyche -Update-5

29.10.2022

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The mission team continues to complete testing of the spacecraft’s flight software in preparation for the 2023 launch date.

NASA announced Friday the agency decided its Psyche mission will go forward, targeting a launch period opening on Oct. 10, 2023.

Earlier this year, Psyche missed its planned 2022 launch period as a result of mission development problems, leading to an internal review of whether the mission would be able to overcome these issues to successfully launch in 2023.

This continuation/termination review was informed by a project-proposed mission replan and a separate independent review, commissioned in June by NASA and the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, that investigated causes for the delay.

“I appreciate the hard work of the independent review board and the JPL-led team toward mission success,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “The lessons learned from Psyche will be implemented across our entire mission portfolio. I am excited about the science insights Psyche will provide during its lifetime and its promise to contribute to our understanding of our own planet’s core.”

The independent review board is still finalizing its report, which, along with NASA’s response, will be shared publicly once complete.

The mission team continues to complete testing of the spacecraft’s flight software in preparation for the 2023 launch date. The new flight profile is similar to the one originally planned for August 2022, using a Mars gravity assist in 2026 to send the spacecraft on its way to the asteroid Psyche. With an October 2023 launch date, the Psyche spacecraft will arrive at the asteroid in August 2029.

“I’m extremely proud of the Psyche team,” said JPL Director Laurie Leshin. “During this review, they have demonstrated significant progress already made toward the future launch date. I am confident in the plan moving forward and excited by the unique and important science this mission will return.”

NASA selected Psyche in 2017 to investigate a previously unexplored metal-rich asteroid of the same name. It is part of the agency’s Discovery Program, a line of low-cost, competitive missions led by a single principal investigator.

NASA continues to assess options for its Janus mission exploring twin binary asteroid systems, which was originally scheduled to launch on the same SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket as Psyche. NASA’s Deep Space Optical Communicationstechnology demonstration, testing high-data-rate laser communications, is integrated into the Psyche spacecraft and will continue as planned on the new launch date.

Arizona State University 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 Technologies in Palo Alto, California, 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. Psyche is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, managed by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Quelle: NASA
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Update: 7.11.2022
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As Psyche Mission Moves Forward, NASA Responds to Independent Review

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NASA and the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, which leads Psyche, shared a response Friday to the results of an independent review board convened to determine why the mission to study a metal-rich asteroid of the same name missed its planned 2022 launch opportunity.

The mission is moving forward as previously announced, and NASA will incorporate recommendations from the board to ensure its success.

The review board – convened at the request of NASA and JPL – found a significant factor in the delay was an imbalance between the workload and the available workforce at JPL. NASA will work closely with JPL management over the coming months to address the challenges raised in the report. The board will meet again in spring 2023 to assess progress.

For the Psyche mission, the board recommended increasing staffing, establishing open communications and an improved reporting system, as well as strengthening the review system to better highlight what issues might affect mission success.

In response, the Psyche project has added appropriately experienced leaders and project staff throughout the project, including filling the project chief engineer and guidance navigation and control cognizant engineer positions. JPL also formed a team to actively manage the staffing shortage across multiple projects including Psyche.

“We welcome this opportunity to hear the independent review board’s findings and have a chance to address the concerns,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “It’s our job to notice issues early – this report is essentially a canary in the coal mine – and address them. Information like this helps us for more than just Psyche, but also for upcoming key missions such as Europa Clipper and Mars Sample Return.”

The independent review board also looked at JPL as a whole. The report made recommendations to address what it called inadequate flight project staffing – in both number of personnel and experience – as well as erosion of line organization technical acumen, and the post-pandemic work environment. 

In response, changes to JPL’s organizational reporting structure and reviews are in work, which along with other actions, are designed to increase institutional insight and oversight of missions including Psyche. JPL also is instituting new internal staffing approaches and working with industrial partners to support staffing needs and to redouble efforts to strengthen experienced leadership at all levels.  

“I appreciate the thoughtful work of the Psyche independent review board,” said Laurie Leshin, JPL director. “The board members worked diligently over the past several months to help JPL uncover and understand issues related to the delay of the Psyche launch. Their insights are helping JPL and NASA take the steps necessary to ensure success on Psyche and future missions.”

To support JPL’s staffing needs, NASA anticipates delaying the launch of the Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy (VERITAS) mission for at least three years. This choice would allow experienced staff at JPL to complete development of strategic flagship missions further along in their development. A delay of VERITAS, a mission in early formulation, would also free up additional resources to enable the continuation of Psyche and positively affect other planetary funding needs.

VERITAS is a JPL-led mission designed to search for water and volcanic activity on Venus. It was selected in 2021 as one of two Venus proposals for the agency’s Discovery Program, a line of low-cost, competitive missions led by a single principal investigator. The mission, with planned contributions from the Italian Space Agency, German Aerospace Center, and French Space Agency, was originally expected to launch in December 2027. The mission is now scheduled to launch no earlier than 2031.

For a VERITAS delay, JPL will stand down their management and engineering teams for the mission and release the staff to other projects, while funding will be continued for science team support.

Quelle: NASA

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Update: 27.01.2023

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NASA’s Psyche Mission Continues Preparation for Launch in 2023

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A team prepares NASA’s Psyche spacecraft for launch inside the Astrotech Space Operations Facility near the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Dec. 8, 2022. Psyche will launch atop a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy.

Credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

After a one-year delay to complete critical testing, the Psyche project is targeting an October 2023 launch.

NASA’s Psyche spacecraft is shown in a clean room on Dec. 8, 2022, at Astrotech Space Operations Facility near the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The spacecraft was powered on and connected to ground support equipment, enabling engineers and technicians to prepare it for launch in 2023. Teams working at Astrotech and at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California continue to communicate with the spacecraft and monitor the health of its systems.

After a one-year delay to complete critical testing, the Psyche project is targeting an October 2023 launch on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. NASA’s Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) technology demonstration, testing high-data-rate laser communications, is integrated into the Psyche spacecraft. The silver-colored cylinder shown in the photo is the sunshade for DSOC, and the gold blanketing is the aperture cover for the DSOC payload.

The spacecraft’s target is a unique, metal-rich asteroid also named Psyche, which lies in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The asteroid may be the partial core of a planetesimal, a building block of rocky planets in our solar system. Researchers will study Psyche using a suite of instruments including multispectral cameras, Gamma Ray and neutron spectrometers (GRNS) and magnetometers. The GRNS and magnetometer sensors are visible in the photo as the tips of the two black protrusions at the far end of the spacecraft. Also visible here is the high-gain antenna, which will enable the spacecraft to communicate with Earth.

More About the Mission

The Psyche mission is led by Arizona State University. 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 Technologies in Palo Alto, California, is providing the high-power solar electric propulsion spacecraft chassis. DSOC is managed by JPL for the Technology Demonstration Missions program within NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate and the Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program within the agency’s Space Operations Mission Directorate. NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at the Kennedy Space Center, is managing the launch service. Psyche is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, managed by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Quelle: NASA

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