The new year begins with a new phase for the Radiation Belt Storm Probes mission. Following a three-day Critical Design Review in December, during which team members presented every detail of their work to a NASA-appointed review panel, RBSP is now in the “flight build phase.” The team will now begin building the instruments and spacecraft, and testing their hardware and software to keep things moving toward launch in the spring of 2012.
Critical Design Reviews are a key milestone that every mission must pass before moving forward to launch. Reviewers carefully examine the spacecraft and mission design to make sure the mission can be completed on time and on budget. The RBSP review panel was very pleased with the mission’s progress and how well RBSP team members demonstrated that their design is mature enough to support proceeding with full-scale fabrication, assembly, integration and test.
Each of the instrument suites underwent their own Critical Design reviews in September and October of 2009, and the teams at the New Jersey Institute for Technology, Boston University, University of Iowa, University of Minnesota, and the National Reconnaissance Office have now begun building their science instruments. Each team will build two identical versions of their instruments, so that both probes can make the exact same measurements as they orbit Earth.
At the end of the review, RBSP Project Manager Rick Fitzgerald stated that the Project Office is very pleased about the team’s performance to date and that they are excited about beginning to build flight hardware.
Mission milestones such as the Critical Design Review, and the review boards that conduct them, help ensure a mission is on track and that everything goes right.
Happy new year from the RBSP Team.