Press Release

NASA Releases Mission Requirements For Proposed Jupiter Mission

By SpaceRef Editor
May 26, 2004
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NASA Releases Mission Requirements For Proposed Jupiter Mission

NASA has issued its mission design requirements to three industry
teams for a proposed mission to Jupiter and its three icy moons. The
requirements are also the first product formulated by NASA’s new
Office of Exploration Systems in Washington.

The Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter is a spacecraft with an ambitious
proposed mission that would orbit three planet-sized moons of Jupiter
— Callisto, Ganymede and Europa — that may harbor vast oceans
beneath their icy surfaces. The mission would be powered by a nuclear
reactor and launched sometime in the next decade.

Associate Administrator retired Rear Adm. Craig E. Steidle of NASA’s
Office of Exploration Systems said, “The Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter
requirements represent our new way of doing business, tracing
exploration strategies to the technology maturation programs that will
enable this exciting mission and the other missions that make up
Project Constellation.”

The Request for Proposal was released this week to the three
previously qualified industry teams led by Boeing, Huntington Beach,
Calif.; Lockheed Martin, Denver; and Northrop Grumman, Redondo Beach,
Calif. These three companies are currently working under study
contracts investigating conceptual designs for the mission. The
proposals are due July 16, 2004.

The scope of the initial contract is to co-design the spacecraft
through the preliminary design with the government team. A contract
modification will be issued after preliminary design to implement the
design, to integrate and test the spacecraft and to integrate the
spacecraft with the reactor module and mission module. JPL would be
responsible for delivering the mission module, which would include
instruments procured competitively via a NASA announcement of
opportunity. The launch vehicle will be supplied by NASA. The
Department of Energy’s Office of Naval Reactors would be responsible
for the reactor module. To ensure the technologies demonstrated are
consistent and coordinated with the Vision for Space Exploration,
Project Constellation is managed within the Office of Exploration

“Although the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter mission may not launch until
the next decade, the study of revolutionary new technologies in
spacecraft design is underway in the areas of power conversion and
heat rejection, electric propulsion, radiation hardened electronics
and materials, and telecommunications,” said Karla Clark, industry
studies lead and deep space avionics project manager for the Jupiter
Icy Moons Orbiter Mission.

Three cross-cutting science themes identified by the NASA-chartered
science definition team would drive the proposed Jupiter Icy Moons
Orbiter science investigations. The themes are to evaluate the degree
to which subsurface oceans are present on these worlds; to study the
chemical composition of the moons, including organic materials, and
the surface processes that affect them; and to scrutinize the entire
Jupiter system, particularly the interactions between Jupiter and the
moons’ atmospheres and interiors.

“The scientists have told us what they want,” said John Casani,
project manager for the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter mission at JPL.
“When you consider the five-to-eight year trip to Jupiter, going from
one moon to the next, not only flying by but orbiting each moon, this
will require a unique nuclear power and electric propulsion system.
The large amount of power required for electric propulsion could be
used in orbit to power a significantly enhanced suite of instruments
not even conceivable with previous power systems.”

The Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter mission is part of NASA’s Project
Prometheus, a program studying a series of initiatives to develop
power systems and technologies for space exploration. The Jupiter Icy
Moons Orbiter, managed by JPL, would be the first NASA mission
utilizing nuclear electric propulsion, which would enable the
spacecraft to orbit each of these icy worlds to perform extensive
investigations of their makeup, history and potential for sustaining
life. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California
Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the proposed Jupiter Icy
Moons Orbiter mission for NASA’s Office of Exploration Systems,
Washington, D.C.

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SpaceRef staff editor.