A team that consists of professionals from the University of Colorado Boulder and Lockheed Martin has been selected as one of three finalists for NASA's Small Innovative Mission for Planetary Exploration program.
Led by CU Boulder, the team will develop a small satellite called Janus which will use Malin Space Science Systems-developed visible and infrared cameras to capture images of two asteroids that orbit a single center of mass, Lockheed said Wednesday.
The firm's space business will develop and construct Janus as part of preliminary design review activities and provide post-launch mission support if the team is selected to move on to the SIMPLEx program's final phase.
Lockheed and CU Boulder expect to launch Janus in 2022 and have it reach the binary asteroids' orbit by 2026.
Chris McCaa, Janus program manager at Lockheed's space division, said the company intends to leverage its experience in deep space technology to develop and launch one of the first smallsats that will deliver data from beyond the Earth's orbit.
The SIMPLEx effort is focused on the deployment of small spacecraft weighing less than 396.8 pounds to any solar system body other than the Earth and the sun.