A vital component of NASA’s Psychic spacecraft has been handed over to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. This laboratory is where the final assembly, testing and launch operations are performed.
The spacecraft will complete the final assembly phase of its jet propulsion laboratory and be thoroughly tested next year before being flown to Cape Carnival Florida Air Base in August 2022 for launch into the asteroid belt.
The Solar Electric Propulsion, or SUV for short, is about the size of a van and will make up about 80 percent of the final mass of spacecraft hardware.
The structure has a box-like structure and has been moved to a convenient location in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This chassis has prominent features such as a powerful antenna with a width of 2 meters, a holder of scientific tools as well as bright red protective covers to protect vital hardware components.
The arrival of the spacecraft from Maxar to the jet propulsion laboratory is a turning point in our 10 years of operation; Carrying out these operations and manufacturing these parts during the Covid-19 epidemic is itself a remarkable scientific achievement.
Arizona State University’s Lindy Alkins-Tanton, the mission’s lead researcher, called Saiki a target for a metal-rich asteroid of the same name. An asteroid in the asteroid belt, somewhere between Mars and Jupiter, orbiting the Sun. Scientists estimate that the asteroid psychic is largely composed of iron and nickel and could be the nucleus of an early star.
The psychic asteroid is about 140 miles or 226 kilometers wide, and exploring it could open new doors of valuable discoveries about how the Earth and other planets formed.
The project team will work full time over the next 12 months to complete pre-launch tests.
“It’s very exciting to see all the components come together, it’s part of the process that I’re interested in,” said Henry Stone, project manager for Syke from his Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “But this stage is very sensitive, and if there is a problem in this project, it can affect the whole mission. It is very important to follow the schedule set for this stage of the process.”
When a psychic arrives at its jet propulsion lab, it is already integrated with most engineering hardware. Maxar’s team builds the entire structure and integrates the hardware required for a high-powered electrical system, propulsion, heating and navigation.
The spacecraft uses Maxar electric propulsion during its mission to advance deep into space. The Maxar team also builds the solar arrays, which have five large, twin plates that are responsible for powering the spacecraft.
The transfer of the SEP chassis to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a major success for Maxar. While the health of the team is at stake with Covid-19 disease, they have succeeded in designing and building a spacecraft in a low-energy environment capable of traveling billions of miles, and they are very proud of their team.
The collaboration between Maxar, Arizona State University and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a successful collaboration.
Construction and testing
The assembly, testing and operation phase began on March 16, equivalent to March 17. When the engineers examined the subsystems provided by the propulsion laboratory, which includes the flight computer, the communications system, and the low-power distribution system; Maxar engineers and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory begin installing the remaining hardware components after the chassis arrives and resume testing.
The mission’s three scientific instruments will arrive at the jet propulsion lab in the next few months, and will include a magnetometer that will study the asteroid’s potential magnetic field. A multispectral imager that is responsible for photographing the asteroid’s surface and then a spectroscopy used to analyze the constituent elements of the asteroid through neutrons and gamma rays emitted from the surface.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is also developing a technology testing tool that tests high-speed data laser communications that could be used in future NASA missions.
Once assembled, the spacecraft will be transferred from the spacecraft assembly facility to the large thermal vacuum chamber of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to simulate the harsh environment of deep space. This step is a very important process.
The chamber is where NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineers begin heavy testing to ensure that the spacecraft is operating properly and safely deep in space. This proper function mainly involves moving with electric propulsion, performing scientific measurements, and communicating with the earth.
The psyche will be fully assembled by next spring and will be sent to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center before the spacecraft launches in August 2022, equivalent to August 1401.
With the help of Mars’ gravity, the spacecraft will pass by Mars in May 2023 (early 1402) and early 2026 (late 1404) to reach the asteroid orbit and collect scientific data within 21 months.