NASA’s Lucy mission has successfully moved into the manufacturing stage after a successful Critical Design Review. The mission, which is expected to be launched in October 2021 will be the first to explore the Trojan asteroids.
In an October 21 press release, NASA announced that the Lucy mission had completed its Critical Design Review at Lockheed Martin in Littleton, Colorado on October 18. The review is the final stage before manufacturing and requires the team to present a completed mission design. The design is required to demonstrate that the team has “met all the technical challenges of the mission and is ready to begin building hardware.”
Following the completion of the review, an independent NASA review board gave the green light to the Lucy team to begin manufacturing.
“I am constantly amazed at the dedication and diversity of skills that our team brings to this project,” said Keith Noll, a Lucy project scientist from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. ”Day by day the mission comes into clearer focus and the mission critical design review is the latest milestone in our journey to launch just two years from now.”
The Lucy mission is part of the NASA Discovery-class program. These missions are relatively lower cost as compared to New Frontiers or Flagship Program missions. They are traditionally highly focused scientific space missions that explore our solar system and their development is capped at $450 million.
Once launched, Lucy will embark on a 12-year journey to explore seven different asteroids, a Main Belt asteroid, and six Trojan asteroids. It will be the first to study the Trojan asteroids which share an orbit around the Sun with Jupiter.
It is believed that the Trojan Asteroids may be the remnants of material that helped form the outer planets of our solar system. As a result, these asteroids may hold clues to understanding the birth of our solar system more than 4 billion years ago.