Construction of the Space probe for NASA's Psyche Mission

Hello everybody,

first of all, I still wish everyone a Happy Easter.

During my trip to Florida, I witnessed the launch of a Falcon 9 Heavy for NASA’s Psyche mission from Launch Pad 39A live from the Viewing point of the Apollo Saturn V Center on October 13, 2023, which was an unforgettable experience that I reported on in my German Travel report.

This Official NASA Trailer gives a very good overview of the Psyche spacecraft and its mission.


Source: NASA, JPL-Caltech, ASU

As I mentioned at the end of the post, one could take along a simple paper kit of the Psyche spacecraft in the KSC Visitor Complex, which even contains short illustrated instructions, so putting it together shouldn’t be rocket science.

But when I took a closer look at the kit and the instructions,

I immediately had some concerns about the 15 cm long Solar arrays and their point-like attachment to the space probe.

To do this, a folded and glued carrier strip (5 mm x 200 mm) should be glued in the middle of a folded panel and pushed through side slits through the space probe body, onto which then at the other side the other panel should be glued.

As you can see, the space probe only consists of six parts, which I first cut out of the slightly thicker cardboard. Then one can clearly see that for the intended assembly of the panels with the help of the carrier strip, the inner areas of the filigree struts must not be cut out in order to provide the whole thing with sufficient support,

which of course doesn’t correspond to the original and would be totally resist me, as one can see in the Trailer (2:00).

That’s why I came up with a different, even though adventurous solution, that should come closer to the original. The only problem is the virtually point-like, stable attachment of the widely overhanging panels to the space probe walls.

Of course, it would be ideal if I made the struts out of thin wire, which is why I first cut out the spaces, but what was quite tricky.

To bend the struts, I first had to make a sketch, which I then used to bend brass wire (Ø 0,5 mm) into a double Z shape. I could then first glue these struts on one side of each of the separate panels and push them through the side slots through the probe cube. Separate panels because the relatively stiff cardboard would probably be difficult to glue with inserted struts.

Then I’ve still thought about a Balsa support that is glued to the interior of the space probe, onto the top of which the middle parts of the struts are glued to ensure that they are held in place adequately.

Now I just have to think of a clever sequence of assembly steps, whereby I can thread the struts of the panels glued on one side individually and one after the other and only then can glue them to the panel parts on the other side, before I can finally glue the space probe cube.

If the whole bizarre structure had sufficient stability and rigidity, I could perhaps even leave out the paper strips of the rod systems that are actually too wide, which would then be even closer to the original.

As one can see, a lot of things are still formulated in the subjunctive, therefore Trial & Error, let’s see what can be done.

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Sounds like that trip was pretty amazing… Lots of cool things to see and remember… Interesting little space probe …

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Thanks John for looking in on my little Psyche space probe.

It was simply an overwhelming trip!


Can’t wait to start my Return to KSC Tour 2024!

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Manfred, Happy Easter. Hope you had a wonderful day. It is good to see you back.

This is an interesting little project and well connected with your trip. It should not take long but then again having a NASA scientist work on simple projects can get :thinking:…long and not very simple :grin:

Just kidding :rofl:

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Thanks Mike for your encouragement to keep going,

I want to do my best on this little space probe too before moving on to the Payload Canister again.

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Yes indeed. We are waiting patiently for some love to the shuttle program. God speed!

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Hi friends, have a little patience, don’t worry my STS-6 journey will continue soon …

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Hello everybody,
and now to the assembly order, which I thought carefully about.

Since my two Z-shaped brass struts are supposed to go through the probe cube, it quickly became clear that I wasn’t allowed to glue the cube together on all sides yet otherwise it would not be possible to thread the struts through.

That’s why in the following picture I tried to mark the individual steps in order with arrows, which may not be understandable straight away, which is why I would like to briefly explain the steps.

In order to still have enough freedom of movement when threading the struts, I can in the 1st Step first just only glue the two rear side walls to the floor and the Balsa support.

In the 2nd step I only glued the end of the [color=blue]brass strut[/color] onto the back of the upper panel with UHU CA, because I might want to leave out the white paper triangle.

In order to be able to handle these bizarre structures when threading through the struts, I cut two Styrofoam blocks to the required height to support the panels.

In the 3rd Step then followed the careful threading of the glued strut first through the front side wall and then by turning the rear support so that the strut could also be threaded into the rear side wall and then could carefully pulled through,

which actually worked.

The other panel is only temporarily placed in these images.

With this panel and the Steps 4 to 8 it will continue tomorrow.

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Hello everybody,

let’s continue with the Solar panel on the other side, whereby I changed the assembly sequence a little bit.

First I glued the longer leg of the brass strut up to the bend onto the underside of the panel.

And then it went to the Styrofoam platform, in order to thread the strut, hoping that everything would work.

To ensure the panel had a sure laying, I had to put another block of Styrofoam underneath. I then carefully threaded the front end of the brass strut with tweezers a few millimeters into the tiny opening on the side wall,

then slowly pulled across the Balsa support to the other side wall and carefully pushed through the opening there until it could be seen on the other side. So far so good!

After that, however, it became increasingly difficult as the bend in the brass support had to go through the wall and I had to be extremely careful not to bend everything,

especially since the front end behind the other wall had also to be pulled at the same time, which was quite tricky.

But finally I have succeed in doing it,

and was able to take a little breather.

Then I still glued the wires to the Balsa support on both sides with UHU CA.

I then still glued a Channel profile (1,5 mm x 3 mm) onto it to make sure that the glued wires would not get loose if I would have to bent the finally glued panels a little for position correction.

Tomorrow the Steps 6 and 7 can also follow now, whereby the last side wall and the ceiling will be glued.

And then I’m already excited to see what everything will look like when I turn the space probe over to glue the struts onto the undersides of the panels too.

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Hello everybody,

sorry, but my original second post with my tricky assembly order somehow wasn’t saved, which is why I’ve added it again.

So please read again.

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Hello everybody,

today was the day, and when I’ve turned the probe around full of curiosity I was pleasantly surprised that both Solar panels remained almost horizontal, especially since both were only glued on one brass strut, wherewith my idea actually proved to be a viable solution.

In Step 6 the side wall could now be glued,

and then also the top finish (Step 7).

However, I don’t like the blue X-Band High Gain Antenna yet,

and since it is covered with foil in the original probe anyway, I tried that too and cut the part out of thin aluminum foil.

I then stuck the foil with CA onto the cone, which looks better to my taste. However, I will not glue the X-Band Antenna firmly onto the probe until later, as I would like to add a few details that have so far only been hinted at in the paper kit.

I’ve then turned the probe over again and glued the remaining brass struts onto the undersides of both panels.

Now that both panels were sufficiently stabilized, I turned everything over and took a closer look at all again.

Afterwards I decided to remove the paper covers of the struts because this look corresponds more to the original and will only glue the downscaled front covers,

which I’ve scaled from the video shown at the beginning.


Source: Official NASA Trailer (2:00)

Now the crossbars are still missing on both panels, which I have therefore already removed from the kit and will also replace with brass wire, as well as some details such as the Rod systems in the two corners, as well as Thruster and Spectrometer, which I could possibly hint at.

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Looks really good. Its nice to see real “earth Space equipment” insted of all the SciFi stuff all the time. The balsa really helps support the rid for the panels… nice plan :+1:

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Good work on the improvized solar array rack.

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Thanks John for your kind words,

it’s only a very simple paper kit, but in this category it should already look a bit like Real Spacecraft too.

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Thanks KoSprueone for looking in on me too,

such white areas in a paper kit are simply unrealistic and simply grate on a Real Space modeler’s eyes like me.

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Hello everybody,

today I dared to the cross struts (brass wire Ø 0,5 mm), but gluing them in turned out to be extremely difficult, which required a lot of sensitivity.

The top priority when gluing was a secure bearing and locking of the probe and panels so that nothing could slip.

Since the gluing had to be done with UHU CA, the strut could initially only be done on the back side. So that after the strut moistened with CA had been positioned accurately, it could be carefully placed on the front side after a short time to set, I glued a tape strip there as a shelf, what has also proven successful.

After carefully removing the tape strip, the strut could also be glued at this point by dabbing it with CA using an acupuncture needle.

The small triangular strut on the probe wall was then glued onto the struts, wherewith this side was completed.

The crossbar on the other side was glued in the same way.

Maybe you probably haven’t noticed yet, I’ve colored the white edging of the middle panel area blue, which I like better that way.

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Looking nice buddy. Now, will the finished kit be displayed on a base or plaque?

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Neither, I’ll probably hang it under the ceiling so that it floats above me.

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looking very good :+1:

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Sorry guys,

yesterday I wanted to correct a color coding in my last post, but that was no longer possible, strange.

How long can I edit my own post?

Corrections should still be possible for a few days.

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