As members of Congress took credit for NASA funding levels in a fiscal year 2017 omnibus spending bill, the agency’s science leadership is examining how those funds will affect its programs.
The agency expects to release a draft solicitation by the end of the year for the $115 million mission, which would notionally launch in 2022.
Within NASA, the Heliophysics Division is leading the way when it comes to cubesats that yield useful scientific data. That is partly because the latest Heliophysics decadal, a 10-year science roadmap published in 2012, is much newer than those for the other three NASA science divisions.
U.S. law forbids bilateral cooperation between NASA and China, so the U.S. agency would funnel its contribution to the Solar wind Magnetosphere Ionosphere Link Explorer through ESA.
Steven Clarke will take over as director of NASA’s roughly $600 million heliophysics division effective June 1, the agency said.
That launch, valued at $389 million, will also use a Star-48 upper-stage motor provided by Orbital ATK.
NASA approved ICON, a small heliophysics mission set to launch no later than October 2017, to proceed into development, the agency announced Nov. 12.