Overview of the spacecraft design for the Psyche mission concept

William Hart, G. Mark Brown, Steven M. Collins, Maria De Soria-Santacruz Pich, Paul Fieseler, Dan Goebel, Danielle Marsh, David Y. Oh, Steve Snyder, Noah Warner, Gregory Whiffen, Linda Elkins-Tanton, James Bell, David J. Lawrence, Peter Lord, Zachary Pirkl

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

34 Scopus citations


In January 2017, Psyche and a second mission concept were selected by NASA for flight as part of the 14th Discovery mission competition. Assigned for an initial launch date in 2023, the Psyche team was given direction shortly after selection to research the possibility for earlier opportunities. Ultimately, the team was able to identify a launch opportunity in 2022 with a reduced flight time to its destination. This was accomplished in large part to crosscutting trades centered on the electrical power subsystem. These trades were facilitated through the Psyche mission's planned use of Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP), which enables substantial flexibility with respect to trajectory design. In combination with low-thrust trajectory analysis tools, the team was able to robustly converge to solutions with a higher fidelity and accuracy of results. These trades also took advantage of the 1300 series product line produced by Space Systems Loral (SSL), which enabled power growth while maintaining strong system-level heritage through its modular design that has been utilized on a large number of geostationary (GEO) communications satellites. This paper presents an overview of the Psyche mission concept, and the unique architecture that enables the use of commercially developed electric propulsion and space power systems from Space Systems Loral to provide flexibility in mission design. This paper then discusses the trades that allowed the Psyche team to meet a 2022 launch date.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2018 IEEE Aerospace Conference, AERO 2018
PublisherIEEE Computer Society
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781538620144
StatePublished - Jun 25 2018
Event2018 IEEE Aerospace Conference, AERO 2018 - Big Sky, United States
Duration: Mar 3 2018Mar 10 2018

Publication series

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


Other2018 IEEE Aerospace Conference, AERO 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBig Sky

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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