NASA Begins Final Assembly of Spacecraft Destined for Asteroid Psyche

In late March of 2021, a main component of NASA’s Psyche spacecraft was delivered to JPL, where assembly, test, and launch operations are underway. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Set to launch next year, the agency’s Psyche spacecraft will explore a metal-rich asteroid in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — A major component of NASA’s Psyche spacecraft has been delivered to the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, where the phase known as assembly, test, and launch operations is now underway. Over the next year, the spacecraft will finish assembly and undergo rigorous checkout and testing before it’s shipped to Cape Canaveral, Florida, for an August 2022 launch to the main asteroid belt.

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Maxar and Busek Thruster System for NASA Lunar Gateway Passes Critical Milestone

Concept art of Maxar’s Power and Propulsion Element with six Hall effect thrusters. (Credit: Maxar Technologies)

NATICK, Mass., March 18, 2021 (Busek Co. PR) — Busek Co., a developer of high-performance electric propulsion technology for space applications, and Maxar Technologies (NYSE: MAXR) (TSX: MAXR), a trusted partner and innovator in Earth intelligence and Space Infrastructure, confirmed today the successful completion of an end-to-end hot fire test campaign validating all major elements of the 6-kilowatt solar electric propulsion (SEP) subsystem for the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) of NASA’s Gateway in lunar orbit.

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NASA Partners with Altius, Honeybee & OrbitFab to Test Satellite Fixtures for Robotic Grappling

A robotic servicing arm (left) practices autonomous capture of a satellite mockup (right) in Goddard’s Robotic Operations Center. Because there is no grapple fixture, the arm will use the marman ring, which originally attached the satellite to the rocket that launched it to space. (Credits: NASA/Rebecca Roth)

by Tracy Vogel
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, has chosen three companies to participate in a new partnership to test and evaluate satellite servicing technologies.

Altius Space Machines of Broomfield, Colorado, Honeybee Robotics of Longmont, Colorado, and Orbit Fab of San Francisco will provide cooperative robotic grapple fixtures and data to be studied by NASA’s Exploration and In-Space Services projects division (NExIS, formerly known as the Satellite Servicing Projects Division) engineers. The engineers will utilize robotics facilities at Goddard via Space Act Agreements to collect data on the performance of the companies’ fixtures.

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NASA’s Psyche Mission Moves Forward, Passing Key Milestone

A technician prepares to integrate part of the electric propulsion system onto the main body of NASA’s Psyche spacecraft at Maxar Technologies in Palo Alto, California. (Credits: Maxar Technologies)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Now just a year and a half from launch, the mission to explore a metal-rich asteroid will soon begin assembling and testing the spacecraft.

NASA’s Psyche mission has passed a critical milestone that moves it a step closer to launch. After an intense review of the mission’s progress in building its science instruments and engineering systems, Psyche won clearance to progress into what NASA calls Phase D of its life cycle – the final phase of operations prior to its scheduled launch in August 2022.

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Sirius XM New Satellite Suffers Payload Failures in Orbit

Rendering of the SXM-7 satellite (Credit: Maxar Technologies)

Sirius XM’s newest satellite has suffered the failure of certain “payload units” following its launch last month, the satellite radio company said in a regulatory filing on Wednesday.

The Maxar-built SXM-7 satellite was launched on Dec. 13 by a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster. The spacecraft began in-orbit testing on Jan. 4.

“During in-orbit testing of SXM-7, events occurred which have caused failures of certain SXM-7 payload units. An evaluation of SXM-7 is underway. The full extent of the damage to SXM-7 is not yet known,” Sirius XM said.

“We do not expect our satellite radio service to be impacted by these adverse SXM-7 events. Our XM-3 and XM-4 satellites continue to operate and are expected to support our satellite radio service for several years. In addition, our XM-5 satellite remains available as an in-orbit spare. Construction of our SXM-8 satellite is underway and that satellite is expected to be launched into a geostationary orbit later this year,” the company added.

Sirius XM said it had purchased insurance policies worth $225 million covering the satellite through launch the first year of in-orbit operations. The company has notified underwriters of potential claims relating to SXM-7.

Dynetics Achieves Critical NASA Milestone, Delivers Key Data on Lunar Lander Program

Credit: Dynetics

The company and its subcontractors complete a major step in the Human Landing System (HLS) competition while continuing to perform significant hardware and software development activities

HUNTSVILLE, Ala., Jan. 6, 2021 – Dynetics, a wholly owned subsidiary of Leidos, has submitted its proposal for Option A of the Human Landing System (HLS) for NASA’s Artemis Program. The Dynetics team has also completed the HLS Continuation Review, a critical milestone during the 10-month base period, which NASA will use to assess progress on HLS hardware development and program plans.

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SiriusXM’s New SXM-7 Satellite, Built by Maxar and Launched Aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9, Performing Properly After Launch

Rendering of the SXM-7 satellite (Credit: Maxar Technologies)

SiriusXM’s new 1300-class satellite will provide continuous and expanded delivery of its audio entertainment and information services across North America

NEW YORK AND HAWTHORNE, CA, AND WESTMINSTER, COLO., December 13, 2020 (Maxar/Sirius XM PR) – Maxar Technologies (NYSE:MAXR) (TSX:MAXR), a trusted partner and innovator in Earth Intelligence and Space Infrastructure, SiriusXM, the leading audio entertainment company in the United States, and SpaceX, today announced that the SXM-7 satellite was successfully launched and is performing properly.

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Maxar Awards MDA Contracts for On-orbit Servicing Technologies

OSAM-1 mission (Credit: NASA)

BRAMPTON, Ont. (MDA PR) — MDA today announced that it has signed multiple contracts with Maxar Technologies to provide advanced space robotics technologies for the Space Infrastructure Dexterous Robot (SPIDER), a technology demonstration on NASA’s On‑orbit Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing 1 (OSAM-1) mission.

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OIG Audit: NASA Gateway Elements Behind Schedule, Over Budget

Artemis Gateway (Credit: Thales Alenia Space/Briot)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA’s attempt to use innovative acquisition practices to speed up development of the lunar Gateway has left the first two elements of the station over budget and behind schedule, according to a new audit from the space agency’s Office of Inspector General.

It is also unlikely the human-tended Gateway will be capable of supporting the planned 2024 mission to land American astronauts at the south pole of the moon, the audit concluded.

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NASA to Work with Industry to Mature Green Propulsion, Advanced Materials, Space Robots and More

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 17 U.S. companies for 20 partnerships to mature industry-developed space technologies for the Moon and beyond through the Space Technology Mission Directorate’s 2020 Announcement of Collaboration Opportunity (ACO).

The selected proposals are relevant to technology topic areas outlined in the solicitation, including cryogenic fluid management and propulsion; advanced propulsion; sustainable power; in-situ propellant and consumable production; intelligent/resilient systems and advanced robotics; advanced materials and structures; entry, descent, and landing; and small spacecraft technologies.

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New NASA Partnerships to Mature Commercial Space Technologies, Capabilities

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected  17 U.S. companies for 20 partnerships to mature industry-developed space technologies for the Moon and beyond. The NASA and industry teams will design a 3D printing system for NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration program, test a simple method for removing dust from planetary solar arrays, mature a first-stage rocket recovery system for a small satellite launch provider, and more.

Various NASA centers will work with the companies, ranging from small businesses and large aerospace companies to a previous NASA challenge winner, to provide expertise and access to the agency’s unique testing facilities. The partnerships aim to accelerate the development of emerging space capabilities.

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Maxar Awarded Contract to Build 6th Geostationary Communications Satellite for Intelsat in 2020

WESTMINSTER, Colo. (Maxar Technologies PR) — Maxar Technologies (NYSE:MAXR) (TSX:MAXR), a trusted partner and innovator in Earth Intelligence and Space Infrastructure, today announced it will build the Galaxy 37 geostationary communications satellite for Intelsat, operator of the world’s largest integrated satellite and terrestrial network. Galaxy 37 is the sixth Intelsat geostationary communications satellite awarded to Maxar in 2020.

Galaxy 37 will join four previously ordered satellites from Maxar in helping Intelsat transition its existing media distribution and contribution services–uninterrupted–from the 3.7 to 4.0 gigahertz portion of the C-band, to the 4.0 to 4.2 gigahertz portion of the band, freeing up spectrum for 5G terrestrial wireless services.

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Intelsat Finalizes Satellite and Launch Vehicle Contracts for U.S. C-band Spectrum Transition

McLean, Va. (Intelsat PR) – Intelsat, operator of the world’s largest integrated satellite and terrestrial network, today announced it has finalized all of its required contracts with satellite manufacturers and launch-vehicle providers to move forward and meet the accelerated C-band spectrum clearing timelines established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) earlier this year.

The company has entered into a formal agreement with U.S.-based Maxar Technologies to build the final satellite required to support its C-band transition and maintain the FCC’s post-transition, “same or better” quality-of-service standard. Earlier this summer, Intelsat announced manufacturing contracts with Maxar and U.S.-based Northrop Grumman for six satellites.

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