Software problem delays Psyche launch

Software testing problem delays Psyche launch

NASA decided there was not enough time to finish testing the spacecraft’s software before its launch window closed, therefore the Psyche asteroid mission will not launch this year as originally scheduled.

Agency representatives stated during a briefing on June 24 that the mission did not have enough time to test the spacecraft’s guidance, navigation, and control (GNC) software before its launch window closed on October 11. Because of the software testing difficulty, NASA has already postponed the launch from August 1.

Director of NASA’s planetary science division Lori Glaze stated, “Following rigorous review, augmentation of resources, and efforts to rescope or rephase functionality, the project and JPL have concluded that Psyche does not have a path to launch with acceptable risk in the 2022 window.

Officials from the project claimed that the GNC software itself was not the issue, but rather a testbed that was used to evaluate the software by imitating a spaceship. “In essence, the testbed is a stretched-out simulation of the real spacecraft. Henry Stone, Psyche project manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, described it as a blend of hardware and software. Its purpose is to create a copy of the flight system that can be used to test all system behaviours using software.

According to him, Maxar, the main contractor for the Psyche mission, has also contributed components to the testbed, which is managed by JPL. “In order to develop the total system, we had to combine that piece of the simulators and testing apparatus with the portion at JPL. There, we encountered several problems. Requests for comment regarding Maxar’s participation in the Psyche testbed were not immediately answered.

The GNC software’s development lagged last year, according to Lindy Elkins-Tanton, the project’s chief investigator for Psyche at Arizona State University. The project was aware that the testbed was running behind schedule by early this year. Although the testbed is currently operational, it is too late to test the software in time for a launch this autumn. It was very recently done.

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