Metis was recognized as NASA Ames Research Center’s 2020 Small Business Subcontractor of the Year for excellence in space mission design as subcontractor to Millennium Engineering and Integration Company on the Projects and Engineering Support Services (PESS) contract.
“This award belongs to the Metis staff, led by Principal Systems Engineer Laura Plice, who play a pivotal role in providing Flight Dynamics expertise as members of the Center’s Mission Design Center, and lend their expertise to proposals to bring new missions to Ames,” said Metis CEO Joy Colucci.
Laura’s team conducted groundbreaking mission design leadership for Ames’ HelioSwarm proposal answering NASA’s 2019 Heliophysics Medium Explorer announcement of opportunity, which received one of five NASA mission concept awards. The Metis Flight Dynamics staff solved the unique and exceptionally difficult challenges associated with determining relative navigation and orbital trajectories for the proposed HelioSwarm satellite constellation. Specifically, the HelioSwarm mission design included trajectory features of lunar gravity assist and lunar resonance in High Earth Orbit, as well as complex coordination of nine co-orbiting satellites taking temporally and spatially coordinated measurements of the solar wind.
“The flight dynamics team had an extremely challenging task of translating the heliophysics science measurement goals into a practical swarm trajectory design,” said Metis Vice President for Space Programs James Theiss. “They used their expertise with Lunar resonant orbits to create trajectories for the eight swarm spacecraft so that the configuration met the science measurement requirements. This was an extremely difficult problem and required creative approaches to solve. The success of their approach enabled the entire HelioSwarm mission”.
This honor follows recognition of Metis by NASA Ames last year as 2019 Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year (to Metis Flight Research Associates for SimLabs III contract performance), and in 2016 as Small Business Subcontractor of the Year for support to Booz Allen Hamilton on the Aviation Safety Reporting System program.