NASA selects SSL to provide composite spacecraft with solar electric propulsion for asteroid mission

PALO ALTO, Calif. Space Systems Loral (SSL), a provider of satellites and spacecraft systems in Palo Alto, California, will provide a spacecraft platform for a NASA Discovery Mission to explore the metallic asteroid 16 Psyche. As the industrial partner, SSL will provide the "power-propulsion chassis," a highly capable composite-structure spacecraft platform equipped with a high-power solar electric propulsion (SEP) system, officials say.

NASA selects SSL to provide composite spacecraft with solar electric propulsion for asteroid mission
NASA selects SSL to provide composite spacecraft with solar electric propulsion for asteroid mission

PALO ALTO, Calif. Space Systems Loral (SSL), a provider of satellites and spacecraft systems in Palo Alto, California, will provide a spacecraft platform for a NASA Discovery Mission to explore the metallic asteroid 16 Psyche. As the industrial partner, SSL will provide the "power-propulsion chassis," a highly capable composite-structure spacecraft platform equipped with a high-power solar electric propulsion (SEP) system, officials say.

SSL will work for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to support Principal Investigator Dr. Lindy Elkins-Tanton, director of Arizona State University's (ASU) School of Earth and Space Exploration, in a mission to research the asteroid, which has a 210-kilometer diameter and is believed to be the only place in the solar system where a metal planetary core can be studied.

NASA selects SSL to provide composite spacecraft with solar electric propulsion for asteroid missionNASA selects SSL to provide composite spacecraft with solar electric propulsion for asteroid mission
SSL teaming with JPL and ASU on NASA Discovery Mission to Psyche asteroid (CNW Group/SSL)

The NASA Discovery Program goal is to deepen the knowledge of our solar system by launching modest cost-capped missions on a routine cadence. Scheduled to launch in the 2020s, the Psyche mission was selected for flight out of five Discovery Mission candidates.

The spacecraft design is based on the SSL 1300 platform, which has been proven on more than 100 missions, and has the flexibility to serve a broad range of applications, ranging from space exploration and remote sensing to commercial communications.

SSL is also contributing to a variety of other next-generation U.S. government missions, including the Restore-L mission for NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, which will demonstrate the ability to extend the life of a satellite in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), and the Dragonfly program for NASA and DARPA, which will demonstrate on-orbit satellite assembly.

"Our many years of experience and success in building state-of-the-art spacecraft position us well to support NASA programs and to contribute to this NASA Discovery Mission," says John Celli, president of SSL. "SSL is honored to partner with ASU and JPL to enable this groundbreaking research, which will help us better understand the early days of the solar system and formation of terrestrial planets."

Space Systems Loral (SSL) is a provider of commercial satellites with broad expertise to support satellite operators and innovative space-related missions. The company designs and manufactures spacecraft for services such as direct-to-home television, video content distribution, broadband internet, mobile communications, and Earth observation. As a Silicon Valley innovator for more than 50 years, SSL's advanced product line also includes state-of-the-art small satellites, and sophisticated robotics and automation solutions for remote operations.

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