NASA's Psyche: Solar Arrays Stowed for Launch
Technicians begin to retract one of the two solar arrays attached to NASA's Psyche spacecraft. This photo was taken on July 25, 2023, inside the Astrotech Space Operations facility near the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The solar arrays were permanently installed – and then deployed to ensure they were working properly – before they were stowed for launch. With the arrays unfurled in flight, the spacecraft will be about the size of a singles tennis court. The arrays themselves are 800 square feet (75 square meters). The spacecraft is scheduled to arrive at a metal-rich asteroid, also called Psyche, in 2029.
A SpaceX Falcon Heavy is targeted to launch Psyche from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center no earlier than Oct. 5, with additional opportunities scheduled through Oct. 25.
Arizona State University leads the Psyche mission. A division of Caltech in Pasadena, JPL is responsible for the mission's overall management, system engineering, integration and test, and mission operations. Maxar Technologies in Palo Alto, California, provided the high-power solar electric propulsion spacecraft chassis.
JPL also is providing a technology demonstration instrument called Deep Space Optical Communications that will fly on Psyche in order to test high-data-rate laser communications that could be used by future NASA missions.
Psyche is the 14th mission selected as part of NASA's Discovery Program, managed by the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.