NASA has removed its Janus mission from the Psyche mission’s 2023 launch manifest after an assessment determined that Janus would not be on the required trajectory to meet its science requirements as a result of Psyche’s new launch period.
The Janus mission, which was designed to send twin small satellite spacecraft to study two separate binary asteroid systems, was originally manifested as a ride-along on the Psyche mission’s missed 2022 launch. The new October 2023 launch period, however, cannot deliver the two spacecraft to either the mission’s original targets or to any appropriate target to reach their science objectives.
The spacecraft currently reside at Lockheed Martin, which designed and built them, and mission design assessments are ongoing for potential future science targets. The University of Colorado Boulder leads the Janus science team.
The small satellite mission is part of NASA’s Small, Innovative Missions for PLanetary Exploration (SIMPLEx) program, which provides opportunities for low-cost, high risk science missions that are responsive to requirements for flexibility. These lower cost missions serve as an ideal platform for technical and architecture innovation, contributing to NASA’s science research and technology development objectives. SIMPLEx mission investigations are managed by the Planetary Missions Program Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama as part of the Discovery Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at Kennedy Space Center, is managing the launch services for Psyche.