(ORDO NEWS) — With the solar panels installed, the spacecraft is close to its final configuration ahead of its scheduled August launch.
NASA’s Psyche mission is almost ready for its 2.4 billion-kilometer journey to the mysterious, metal-rich asteroid of the same name.
The twin solar arrays were attached to the body of the spacecraft, deployed lengthwise, and then assembled. This test brings the ship closer to completion before its August launch.
“To see a spacecraft fully assembled for the first time is a huge achievement and something to be proud of,” said Brian Bone, who leads the mission’s assembly, test and launch operations at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.
The five-panel, 75-square-meter cross-shaped solar arrays are the largest ever installed at JPL, which has built many spacecraft over the decades.
When fully deployed in flight, the spacecraft will be the size of a single tennis court. After a 3.5-year solar-powered cruise, the ship will arrive in 2026 at the asteroid Psyche, which at its widest point is 280 kilometers and is considered an unusually rich metal. The spacecraft will spend nearly two years studying it.
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