Maxar’s SSL Expands Scope of Work for NASA Asteroid Exploration Mission Psyche

NASA’s Psyche mission to a distant metal asteroid will carry a revolutionary Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) package. This artist’s concept shows Psyche spacecraft with a five-panel array. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin)

SSL selected to provide critical flight system component for Psyche Mission, which will reveal the mysteries of the only all-metal body known in our solar system

HERNDON, Va. – August 9, 2018 (SSL PR) – SSL, a Maxar Technologies company (formerly MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.) (NYSE: MAXR; TSX: MAXR), and a leading provider of innovative satellites and spacecraft systems, announced today that it was selected by Zin Technologies to build and test the Psyche Compute Element.

This critical flight system component was designed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for Psyche, a NASA Discovery Mission, which will investigate a metal asteroid that is expected to offer insight into how our planet formed. The award builds upon a long standing and trusted relationship with NASA and further demonstrates SSL’s successful track record of leveraging advanced capabilities for ground-breaking government missions in space exploration and science.

As the main on-board computer, the Psyche Compute Element acts as the brain of the spacecraft, functioning as the coordinating center for command and data handling activity. As previously announced, SSL is working together with Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the first mission to explore what is believed to be an asteroid made of metal rather than rock or ice.

In addition to the Psyche Compute Element, SSL is providing a high power solar electric propulsion spacecraft chassis based on the SSL 1300 satellite platform. Using SSL’s standard commercial spacecraft design helps NASA reduce cost and ensure reliability for this mission to the asteroid belt, which lies between Mars and Jupiter.

“SSL is proud to be playing a major role in NASA’s Psyche mission, which will deepen humanity’s knowledge of our solar system and accelerate innovation for future exploration missions,” said Richard White, president of SSL Government Systems. “The spacecraft’s design has been proven on more than 100 missions, and leverages our extensive experience in solar electric propulsion which dates back to 2004. With 87 spacecraft currently on orbit today, SSL is a trusted partner for the most ambitious missions being undertaken in the new space economy.”

Scheduled to launch in 2022, the Psyche mission was selected over four other NASA Discovery Mission candidates. The spacecraft recently completed a comprehensive NASA mission systems review and is on track to meet its next development milestone, called the Preliminary Design Review. For more information, visit https://www.nasa.gov/psyche and https://psyche.asu.edu/.