Dragonfly is a NASA mission that delivers a rotorcraft to Saturn’s moon Titan to advance our search for the building blocks of life. While Dragonfly was originally scheduled to launch in 2026, NASA has requested the Dragonfly team pursue their alternative launch readiness date in 2027.
No changes will be needed to the mission architecture to accommodate this new date, and launching at a later date will not affect Dragonfly’s science return or capabilities once at Titan.
The decision to pursue the alternative launch date is based on factors external to the Dragonfly project team, including COVID-19’s impact on the Planetary Science Division’s budget.
“NASA has the utmost confidence in the Dragonfly team to deliver a successful mission that conducts compelling science,” said Lori Glaze, Director for the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Dragonfly will significantly increase our understanding of this richly organic world and help answer key astrobiology questions in our search to understand the processes that supported the development of life on Earth.”
Dragonfly marks the first time NASA will fly a multi-rotor vehicle for science on another planet. Taking advantage of Titan’s dense atmosphere – four times denser than Earth’s – it will also become the first vehicle ever to fly its entire science payload to multiple locations for repeatable and targeted access to surface materials. By surveying dozens of locations across the icy world, Dragonfly will characterize the habitability of Titan’s environment and investigate the progression of its prebiotic chemistry.