Status Report

NASA SMD: Small Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration (SIMPLEx) Opportunity Delayed

By SpaceRef Editor
September 17, 2020
Filed under ,

Dear Colleagues:


After careful consideration of the current circumstances, the next Small Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration (SIMPLEx) Opportunity is delayed with no new release date available at this time. The AO had been tentatively scheduled for the third quarter of fiscal year 2021, but has been removed from the Planning List for SMD Solicitations posted at


While NASA’s Planetary Science Division (PSD) remains committed to the goals of the SIMPLEx program, several factors require this delay. First, we have important existing commitments that are of high priority based on the Decadal Survey that we are working under. The inefficiencies related to COVID-19 only enhance the pressure on our budget. Second, we are still learning from this current round of selected SIMPLEx missions. Consistent with our previous comments on these issues, we want to incorporate lessons from these missions, including solicited feedback from the community, into our approaches before starting the process for the next AO. In particular, SMD needs to take stock of the procedures for selecting, managing, and matching rideshare missions to primary missions so that we maximize the opportunity for rideshare mission success. This delay will allow NASA to communicate with various stakeholders to ensure alignment going forward.


Finally, PSD has asked the Decadal Survey for guidance on the future of the SIMPLEx Program balanced with other priorities.


In closing, I want to assure you that PSD understands that responding to an AO requires tremendous work by the proposers that begins well in advance of the AO’s release. We will make every effort to announce the next SIMPLEx opportunity well in advance of the AO’s ultimate release.



Lori S. Glaze, Ph.D.

Director, Planetary Science Division NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC


SpaceRef staff editor.