NASA chooses Canadian company to participate in asteroid mission

NASA has chosen MDA to build a spacecraft platform that will venture to a metallic asteroid called 16 Psyche.

Contract is expected to be worth $100 million for MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates

Artist's concept of the Psyche spacecraft, which will conduct a direct exploration of an asteroid thought to be a stripped planetary core. (SSL/ASU/P. Rubin/NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA has chosen MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) to build a spacecraft platform that will venture to a metallic asteroid called 16 Psyche.

MDA says the contract is expected to be worth $100 million when finalized.

Its SSL unit in Palo Alto, Calif., will provide a spacecraft platform equipped with a high-power solar electric propulsion system.

NASA says the spacecraft is expected to be launched in 2023, pass by Mars two years later, and arrive at Psyche in 2030.

The U.S. space agency says the asteroid is about 210 kilometres in diameter and thought to be primarily made of metallic iron and nickel, similar to Earth's core.

MDA is the supplier of the robotic system used aboard the International Space Station and the Canadarm used in NASA's retired Space Shuttle program.

It's also involved in a variety of high-technology businesses including satellite-based data collection and information technology.