Maxar is working with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Arizona State University's School of Earth and Space Exploration in the first mission to explore what is believed to be an asteroid made of metal rather than rock or ice. Launching in 2022, the mission is expected to offer insight into how our planet formed.
Psyche will travel to the asteroid using Maxar's next-generation solar electric propulsion system, the highly efficient SPT-140. First launched in 2018 on a large communications satellite, the system is successfully operating on three spacecraft currently in orbit. The SPT-140 system equipped on the Psyche spacecraft is customized for its mission, which will require it to operate in the significantly diminished sunlight found in the main asteroid belt, three times further away from the sun than Earth.