NASA’s “Psyche” Mission To Be Launched This October

12th Jun 2023
NASA’s “Psyche” Mission To Be Launched This October

NASA’s groundbreaking mission to uncover the secrets of the enigmatic metal world by studying a metallic asteroid known as “Psyche” is back on track. After a brief delay, the space agency has successfully resolved the technical issues that had temporarily halted progress, and the mission is once again set to embark on its extraordinary journey.

Mysterious Psyche asteroid

The ambitious Psyche mission aims to study a unique asteroid located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Designated “16 Psyche,” this celestial body is composed primarily of metal, offering an unprecedented opportunity for scientists to explore a world unlike any other in our solar system. With its iron-nickel core and intriguing geological features, Psyche has captured the curiosity of researchers and space enthusiasts alike.

The mission was originally scheduled to launch in 2022; however, unforeseen challenges arose during the spacecraft’s development phase, prompting a necessary reassessment. Engineers and scientists worked diligently to rectify the technical setbacks, ultimately overcoming the obstacles that had hindered progress.

NASA's Psyche spacecraft
A team prepares NASA’s Psyche spacecraft for launch inside the Astrotech Space Operations Facility near the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in December 2022. Credit: Ben Smegelsky/NASA

The launch is scheduled for October 2023

Now, with the mission back on course, NASA plans to launch the Psyche spacecraft in the summer of 2023, utilizing a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. The spacecraft will undertake a 1.4 billion-mile journey, anticipated to take over four years, before finally reaching its destination.

Once the Psyche spacecraft arrives at 16 Psyche in early 2026, it will spend approximately 21 months orbiting and studying the asteroid up close. The spacecraft’s suite of scientific instruments will enable scientists to collect invaluable data on the asteroid’s surface, composition, and magnetic field. By examining Psyche’s metallic nature, researchers hope to gain insights into the early formation of our solar system and the building blocks that led to the creation of rocky planets like Earth.

The successful completion of the Psyche mission will deepen our understanding of the formation and evolution of asteroids and provide crucial information about the potential resources available in these celestial bodies. With its vast reserves of metals, 16 Psyche holds the possibility of harbouring valuable resources that could have implications for future space exploration and even sustainable resource utilization.

By unlocking the mysteries of Psyche, NASA’s mission promises to revolutionize our understanding of the cosmos while paving the way for future endeavours in space exploration. The invaluable knowledge gained from this extraordinary journey will contribute to humanity’s quest to unravel the enigmas of the universe and expand our reach beyond our home planet.

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