Lockheed Martin to design and build NASA’s Lucy Spacecraft
The Lucy spacecraft will launch in 2021 to study Jupiter's Trojan asteroids.0
Lockheed Martin has been selected to design, build and operate the spacecraft for one of NASA’s latest mission.
The space agency has announced that it will add the Lucy mission to the Discovery Program and intends to launch a robotic spacecraft to explore Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids orbiting the sun in tandem with gas giant.
The Lucy spacecraft will launch in 2021 to study six of these space objects.
“This is a thrilling mission as the Jupiter Trojan asteroids have never been studied up close,” said Guy Beutelschies, director of Interplanetary Systems at Lockheed Martin Space Systems. “The design of the spacecraft draws from the flight-proven OSIRIS-REx spacecraft currently on its way to a near-Earth asteroid. This heritage of spacecraft and mission operations brings known performance, reliability and cost to the mission.”
The Lucy spacecraft is slated to arrive at its first destination, a main belt asteroid, in 2025. From 2027 to 2033, it will explore six Jupiter Trojan asteroids.
“This is a unique opportunity,” said Principal Investigator Dr. Harold Levison of the Southwest Research Institute. “Because the Trojans are remnants of the primordial material that formed the outer planets, they hold vital clues to deciphering the history of the solar system. Lucy, like the human fossil for which it is named, will revolutionize the understanding of our origins.”
Lucy is the seventh NASA Discovery Program mission in which Lockheed Martin has participated. Previously, the company developed the Lunar Prospector spacecraft; developed the aeroshell entry system for Mars Pathfinder; developed and operated the spacecraft for both Stardust missions; developed and operated the Genesis spacecraft; developed and operated the two GRAIL spacecraft; and developed and will operate the InSight Mars lander set to launch in May 2018.
The mission is led by Dr. Harold Levison of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland will manage the mission. The program has a development cost cap of about $450 million.