NASA mission on hold due to software
NASA asteroid mission on hold due to late software delivery
NASA postponed an asteroid expedition on Friday and cited the delayed arrival of its own navigational software as the reason.
This September or October was the planned launch date for the Psyche mission to the mysterious metal asteroid of the same name. However, the agency’s Jet Propulsion Lab delivered its navigation, guidance, and control software — an essential component of any spacecraft more than a month behind schedule. According to officials, engineers “simply ran out of time” to test it.
Psyche has already cost NASA USD 717 million, and its estimated final price tag, which includes the rocket it will launch on, is USD 985 million. The small spacecraft, about the size of a vehicle, was initially planned to reach its asteroid in 2026 after travelling more than a billion miles.
Since the software has been sent, the spacecraft has no known issues other than the fact that “we just haven’t been able to test it,” according to Lindy Elkins-Tanton, the principal scientist for the Psyche mission.
There was one problem, she admitted, “that we couldn’t solve in time to launch in 2022 with confidence.”
According to JPL Director Laurie Leshin, there are still at least two launch options in 2019 and more in 2024 to reach the asteroid that is located in the belt between Mars and Jupiter. Therefore, it would take Psyche till 2029 or 2030 to reach its target.