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Maxar Hits Milestone in Psyche Spacecraft Build 

By Rachel Jewett | April 20, 2020

      Psyche will explore a metallic asteroid orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter. Photo: Maxar

      Maxar completed a critical milestone for its Psyche spacecraft, which Maxar is building to launch in 2022 to explore a metallic asteroid orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter. The milestone, called the solar electric propulsion chassis Critical Design Review (CDR), marks the end of the spacecraft engineering phase and the start of the manufacturing phase.

      Peter Lord, Maxar’s technical director and deputy program manager for Psyche said that now design engineers will move on to new programs, and the manufacturing and test engineers will ramp up their work to begin to assemble and test the spacecraft.

      “To get to this point, we completed many trade studies to figure out the best way to modify our existing designs to accommodate the unique needs of this particular mission and to build the spacecraft. For new designs or modifications to existing design, we’ve done extensive design analysis then built and test engineering models to make sure everything works just the way we want it to,” Lord said in a Q&A published by Maxar on April 16. 

      Now, the team is testing Psyche’s spacecraft body, which is a lightweight graphite cylindrical structure. The next major milestone is the Project CDR, where the science and engineering teams come together to present the combined work to NASA. At that point, NASA must approve the team’s plans for the exploration of Psyche before launch in 2022.