PALO ALTO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Oct 13, 2023–
NASA’s longest mission to use commercial solar electric propulsion (SEP) is underway after launch earlier today. Maxar Space, provider of comprehensive space solutions and secure, precise, geospatial intelligence, built the unique spacecraft chassis based on the Maxar 1300™ series bus, the world’s most trusted space platform. The Maxar Space-built Psyche chassis spread its two solar arrays and successfully started maneuvers toward the asteroid belt.
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The Psyche spacecraft chassis, seen here at its manufacturing center in Palo Alto, California, before final integration and testing in Florida. (Photo: Maxar Space)
This Maxar 1300 spacecraft is one of the lightest and smallest ever, showing the versatility of the platform. Despite its small size, Psyche packs a powerful propulsion system for a one-way journey that will travel 2.2 billion miles (3.6 billion kilometers) throughout the life of the mission. In fact, it carries the largest load of Xenon ever aboard a spacecraft to help power its thrusters. The thrusters will use electromagnetic fields to accelerate and expel charged atoms, or ions, of that xenon. Expelling those ions will create the necessary thrust to move Psyche through space.
“Psyche will break records for deep space travel using SEP,” said Chris Johnson, CEO for Maxar Space. “Maxar leads the industry in propulsion systems that use the Sun’s energy to keep a mission moving. Psyche’s propulsion system is three times as powerful as SEP systems on more than 40 spacecraft we’ve built, and we’re producing a more powerful version for the Power and Propulsion Element of NASA’s Gateway space…