Despite Obstacles, Johns Hopkins APL Team Delivers First Instrument for NASA’s Lucy Mission

Thu, 11/05/2020 - 12:16
Jeremy Rehm

After roughly 1,650 miles in the back of a climate-controlled shipping truck, the Lucy Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (L’LORRI) for NASA’s Lucy mission arrived on Monday, Oct. 26, at Lockheed Martin’s doorstep in Denver.

It’s the first of the Lucy spacecraft’s three instruments to arrive — and it showed up in the middle of a snowstorm.

“Sometimes it seems like the gods are against us,” joked Dewey Adams, the APL program manager for L’LORRI. “Nothing on this program happens easily.”

For the past year and a half, the team has wrestled through managerial issues, technical problems, and the challenges and restrictions of COVID-19. When APL first received the instrument from a collaborating company in April, nearer to the pandemic’s start, L’LORRI was already 11 weeks behind schedule.

Despite quarantines and schedule challenges — and by working every weekend and holiday for the last six months — the APL L’LORRI team pulled that 11-week delay down to three.

“Normally, once you get to the integration and test phase of a project, you start slipping schedule, not getting it back,” said John Wilson, the lead engineer for the L’LORRI program. “It took a huge effort from everyone on the team to get that delivery date back down.”