Psyche Project Implementation During the COVID Pandemic

Jennifer Maxwell, Travis Imken, Robert Mase, David Oh, Melody Safavizadeh, Benjamin Solish, Noah Warner, Lindy T. Elkins-Tanton, Peter Lord

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


In January 2017, 'Psyche: Journey to a Metal World' was selected for implementation as part of NASA's Discovery program. The Psyche mission will utilize electric propulsion with SPT-140 Hall thrusters to rendezvous and orbit the metal-rich asteroid (16) Psyche, in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The Psyche spacecraft requires no chemical propulsion and, when launched in 2022, will be the first mission to use Hall thrusters beyond lunar orbit. The Psyche spacecraft is a hybrid development with Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)-provided deep-space avionics and communications equipment mounted on a high-heritage MAXAR (formerly Space Systems Loral) Solar-Electric Propulsion (SEP) Chassis, based on their 1300 series of GEO communications satellites. The spacecraft is equipped to support a suite of science instruments, as well as a demonstration of the Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) technology. The spacecraft has sufficient onboard resources, autonomy, redundancy, and operability to complete a 3.5-year cruise to 16 Psyche, followed by a 20-month campaign of science investigations while orbiting the asteroid. The mission's early concept design and progress through Preliminary Design Review (PDR) has been described in previous work. The paper will cover the recent mission progress from the Critical Design Review (CDR) through the start of Spacecraft Environmental Testing, which took place during the COVID pandemic. The authors will highlight the successful remote collaboration between the major partners: ASU, JPL, MAXAR, and the Payload teams that led to the initiation of the Assembly, Test, Launch, Operations Phase (ATLO) in early March 2021. Emphasis will be placed on the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic had on the work environment over the last 16+ months, including challenges to delivery of flight hardware and test equipment. In addition to the COVID-19 challenges, other significant anomalies discovered during design and test will be described along with any impacts to the overall science capability of the mission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2022 IEEE Aerospace Conference, AERO 2022
PublisherIEEE Computer Society
ISBN (Electronic)9781665437608
StatePublished - 2022
Event2022 IEEE Aerospace Conference, AERO 2022 - Big Sky, United States
Duration: Mar 5 2022Mar 12 2022

Publication series

NameIEEE Aerospace Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Print)1095-323X


Conference2022 IEEE Aerospace Conference, AERO 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBig Sky

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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