NASA's Lucy mission to study the Trojan asteroids clears critical milestone

NASA's Lucy mission, which is set to be the first space mission to study the Trojan asteroids, successfully completed its critical design review.

According to the space agency, Lucy team members presented the completed mission design, showing that they have met all the technical challenges of the mission and were ready to start building the actual hardware.

At Lockheed Martin in Colorado over the course of four days, an independent review board, comprised of reviewers from NASA and several external organizations, heard all about the mission design.

"This is a very exciting time for us because we are moving beyond the design phase and a really starting to build the spacecraft," Hal Levison, the mission's principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., said in a statement. “It is finally becoming real!"

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The Lucy mission is expected to explore the Trojan asteroids for the first time.

The Lucy mission is expected to explore the Trojan asteroids for the first time. (NASA, artist's rendering)

The topics touched upon during the design review included the Lucy spacecraft and its instrument payload, system-level test plans for flight hardware and software, systems engineering, mission assurance, the ground system and science.

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The Trojan asteroids orbit the Sun at a distance of Jupiter. The mission is set to launch in October 2021; with boosts from Earth's gravity, the spacecraft is expected to complete a 12-year journey to seven different asteroids.

"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 in Greenbelt, Maryland. "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."