NASA has announced that its Lucy mission has passed a critical milestone in its march to launch. The Critical Design Review was completed on October 18th. During that review, the Lucy team members presented the completed mission design, demonstrating that the team has met all the technical challenges the mission posed and is ready to begin building the hardware.
After reviewing the designs and plans for the mission, NASA’s independent review board provided a green light for the team to continue to the fabrication/manufacturing stage of the mission. The Lucy team says that the major mission milestone marks the culmination of months of reviews of all major mission systems and subsystems. Over four days, the independent review board heard presentations on all aspects of the mission design.
The independent review board included reviewers from NASA and several external organizations. Among the mission aspects, the review covered included the Lucy spacecraft and instrument payload, system-level test plans for flight hardware and software, systems engineering, mission assurance, ground system, and science. Lucy will be the first space mission to study the Trojan asteroids that orbit the sun at the same distance as Jupiter.
The mission aims to launch in October 2021. Lucy’s mission will span 12 years and journey to seven different asteroids, including a Main Belt asteroid and six Trojan asteroids. The principal investigator institution is the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center will manage the overall mission, systems engineering, and mission safety and assurance. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver, Colorado, will build the spacecraft.
Lucy is a Discovery Class mission, which are “relatively” low cost with development capped at about $450 million. The programs are managed for NASA’s Planetary Science Division by the Planetary Missions Program Office.