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Lockheed Martin to build spacecraft for NASA’s mission to Jupiter Trojan asteroids

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DENVER — Two Colorado companies will be key in NASA’s upcoming mission to study asteroids near Jupiter.

Lockheed Martin has been selected to design, build and operate the spacecraft for NASA’s Lucy mission, according to a statement released by the aerospace company.

Lockheed Martin designed and built OSIRIS-REx, the spacecraft currently on its way to the asteroid Bennu.

The goal of the Lucy mission is to study six asteroids orbiting Jupiter. Known as the Jupiter Trojan asteroids, they are thought to be relics of a much earlier era in the history of the solar system.

The Lucy spacecraft is scheduled to launch in 2021 and is slated to arrive at its first destination, a main belt asteroid, in 2025.

(Artwork courtesy of Southwest Research Institute)

(Artwork courtesy of Southwest Research Institute)

The program has a development cost cap of about $450 million, according to the statement from Lockheed Martin.

The principal investigator on the mission is Harold Levison of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder.

Lucy will study the geology, surface composition and bulk physical properties of the asteroids.

“Because the Trojans are remnants of the primordial material that formed the outer planets, they hold vital clues to deciphering the history of the solar system,” Levison said. “Lucy, like the human fossil for which it is named, will revolutionize the understanding of our origins.”

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