NASA's Psyche mission aims to explore a 140-miles-wide metal-rich asteroid called '16-Psyche.' The agency will launch a robotic spacecraft atop SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket towards an asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The mission was previously scheduled to lift off atop a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket in August from historic Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. However, when NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory team began testing the asteroid-mining spacecraft to ensure it worked properly, an issue was discovered with the software’s testbed simulators causing it to miss its launch period.
On October 28, NASA announced it will now launch the Psyche asteroid mining mission until October 2023. The spacecraft will fly towards the Red Planet where it will use a Mars gravity assist by 2026, and NASA estimates it will arrive at the Psyche asteroid in August 2029.
The agency shared on Friday that the Psyche project is undergoing an independent review to investigate the causes of the mission’s delay and determine whether the spacecraft will be able to overcome the issues to successfully launch in 2023. The independent review board is still finalizing its report which will be shared by NASA once complete.
“I appreciate the hard work of the independent review board and the JPL-led team toward mission success,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “The lessons learned from Psyche will be implemented across our entire mission portfolio. I am excited about the science insights Psyche will provide during its lifetime and its promise to contribute to our understanding of our own planet’s core.”
“I’m extremely proud of the Psyche team,” said JPL Director Laurie Leshin. “During this review, they have demonstrated significant progress already made toward the future launch date. I am confident in the plan moving forward and excited by the unique and important science this mission will return.” The entire Psyche mission is expected to cost $985 million. NASA already invested $717 million, which includes the spacecraft manufacturing and SpaceX’s launch services, among other things.
Featured Image Source: SpaceX & NASA
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.