NASA’s Psyche mission planned to visit a metal-rich asteroid is confronting an uncertain future after software testing problems forced an extensive launch delay expected to prevail at least until July 2023, mission managers announced Friday, June 24th.
NASA is assembling an independent review committee to examine “all possible options for next steps, including the estimated costs for each of the various possibilities,” Lori Glaze said in a live-streamed news conference. Lori glaze is the director of NASA’s planetary science division at the agency’s headquarters in Washington.
Glaze provided a clue that these options could include the cancellation of the mission, on which NASA has expended $717 million. However, no final decision has been made at this time, Glaze emphasized, as it requires an inquiry for the next steps. The spacecraft is also healthy, as far as team members understand; the issue is the lack of time available for assessing the software.
“This will be a continuation/termination review that will look at the results of the independent review and the recommendations put forward by the project,” Glaze said. “That assessment will be made looking at the whole range and the implications for Psyche, the Discovery program and for the planetary portfolio.” The Discovery program includes mid-size planetary science missions containing fellow asteroid mission Lucy.