Board Begins Review of NASA’s Psyche Mission

On July 19, Psyche’s independent review board met for the first time.

The focus is on understanding technical issues that led to the delay, how the risk of delay was or was not understood and communicated within the project, as well as to those charged with oversight of the mission at JPL in a timely manner, and the work required to ensure that Psyche is ready for a potential future opportunity.

The board’s objectives are to:

  • Study any and all issues that contributed to the launch delay, including the lack of visibility of the problems to management, standing review board, technical authorities, etc. or through standard life cycle reviews.
  • Identify when the problems began arising, why there was a lack of visibility, and determine if there were missed opportunities to take action earlier to possibly prevent the launch delay or prevent shipping to KSC and preparations for launch.
  • Identify and raise other issues that might be crucial for mission success not yet recognized by the team.
  • Identify specific corrective actions to prevent future reoccurrence of identified issues both in the Psyche replan and in other missions.
  • Identify any additional technical work the board believes is required to be completed for launch readiness.
  • Identify lessons learned associated with the acquisition strategy of a commercial bus for future NASA deep space missions.

The board is expected to brief their findings to NASA and JPL leadership in late September.

NASA Begins Psyche Mission Review

NASA’s Science Mission Directorate and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory have commissioned an independent review to examine project and institutional issues that led to the Psyche mission missing its planned 2022 launch opportunity, and to review the mission’s path forward. The 15-member review board will be chaired by retired NASA official Tom Young and is slated to begin work on July 19. The review will study factors of workforce environment, culture, communication, schedule, and both technical and programmatic risks. Results of this study will help inform a continuation/ termination review for the mission, as well as provide NASA and JPL with actionable information to reduce risk for other missions. The board is expected to brief their findings to NASA and JPL leadership in late September.

Psyche Mission Update

This illustration, updated in April 2022, depicts NASA’s Psyche spacecraft. The Psyche mission will explore a metal-rich asteroid of the same name that lies in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The spacecraft will orbit the asteroid – also shown in this illustration – for nearly two years to investigate its composition. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

NASA’s Psyche mission team continues to assess ongoing issues with the spacecraft’s flight software. The team is evaluating its ability to meet a schedule to launch in 2022 – the current launch period is Sept. 20 to Oct. 11. If it is determined that launch in 2022 is not possible, a full range of actions for how to proceed will be considered.

NASA’s Psyche Mission Launch Update

NASA’s Psyche spacecraft is nearing the final stages of preparations for launch, and the mission team is working to confirm that all hardware and software systems are operating correctly. An issue is preventing confirmation that the software controlling the spacecraft is functioning as planned. The team is working to identify and correct the issue. To allow more time for this work, the launch period is being updated to no earlier than Sept. 20, 2022, pending range availability.