Maxar, NASA Finish Preliminary Review of Asteroid Exploration Spacecraft Design

Maxar Technologies has completed a preliminary design review of spacecraft being developed to help NASA explore the metallic 16 Psyche asteroid and gain insight into how planet Earth formed.

Steve Scott, program manager for Psyche spacecraft at Maxar, said in a statement the five-day assessment occurred at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and confirmed that the vehicle design meets agency requirements for the mission.

The company will collaborate with JPL and Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration to analyze the structure of the  giant metal asteroid.

Following the design review, Maxar and NASA will move into the final design and fabrication phases. The agency aims to launch the Psyche mission sometime in 2022.

The spacecraft will use a company-built solar electric propulsion system, dubbed SPT-140, for the vehicle to travel three times the distance of Earth from the sun.

Scott added that Maxar is developing new electric propulsion technologies to support other NASA space missions such as the lunar Gateway.

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