A major component of NASA’s Psyche spacecraft has been delivered to the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, where the phase known as assembly, test, and launch operations (ATLO) is now underway. Taken on March 28, 2021, this photo shows the Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) Chassis just after it was delivered to JPL by Maxar Technologies. Here, the chassis is about to be attached to the dolly in High Bay 1 of JPL’s Spacecraft Assembly Facility.
Maxar’s team in Palo Alto, California, designed and built the SEP Chassis, which includes all the primary and secondary structure and the hardware components needed for the high-power electrical system, the propulsion system, the thermal system, guidance and navigation sensors and actuators, and the high-gain antenna.
Over the next year additional hardware will be added to the spacecraft, including the command and data handling system, a power distribution assembly, the X-band telecommunications hardware suite, three science instruments (two imagers, two magnetometers, and a Gamma-Ray Neutron Spectrometer), and a deep space optical communications technology demonstrator. The spacecraft will finish assembly and then undergo rigorous checkout and testing before being shipped to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, for an August 2022 launch to the main asteroid belt. Psyche will arrive at the metal-rich asteroid of the same name in 2026, orbiting for 21 months to investigate its composition.
Scientists think that Psyche is made up of mostly iron and nickel – similar to Earth’s core. Exploring the asteroid could give valuable insight into how our own planet and others formed.
Arizona State University in Tempe leads the mission. JPL is responsible for the mission’s overall management, system engineering, integration and test, and mission operations. For more information about NASA’s Psyche mission, go to: http://www.nasa.gov/psyche or https://psyche.asu.edu/
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech