NASA Assesses Options for Janus Mission

With the recent cancellation of the 2022 launch of NASA’s Psyche spacecraft, NASA is assessing options for its Janus mission, which was scheduled to launch as a rideshare on the same rocket. Janus is a SIMPLEx-class mission originally designed to send two small satellites (SmallSats) to study two near-Earth binary asteroid systems orbiting between Earth and Mars.

As NASA considers all possible options for the future of the Psyche mission, members of Janus’ science team, led out of the University of Colorado Boulder, are gauging the reachability of their original binary asteroid targets in the event that Psyche launches in 2023 or 2024. The team is also evaluating other potential asteroid targets that could generate valuable insights into the evolution of these rubble pile asteroid systems. The team at Lockheed Martin Space in Littleton, Colorado, is currently completing the twin Janus spacecraft, which are on track to complete integration and testing later this year as planned.

SIMPLEx missions, which provide opportunities for low-cost, high-impact science, are selected with the understanding that they can be responsive to requirements for flexibility. Designed and built to tolerate relatively high risk, these missions serve as an ideal platform for technical and architecture innovation, contributing to NASA’s science research and technology development objectives.