NASA to continue Psyche Mission

NASA has announced its decision to continue the implementation of the Psyche mission. Its launch will take place in the autumn of 2023.

Problems of the Psyche mission

The Psyche spacecraft is designed to study the metallic asteroid Psyche, which is presumably a fragment of a dead protoplanet. Initially, the launch of the mission was scheduled for August 1, 2022, it was supposed to reach its goal in early 2026. 

The Psyche apparatus in the artist’s image. Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

The probe successfully passed tests in a vacuum chamber, after which it was delivered to Cape Canaveral to prepare for launch. However, in the spring, NASA announced the postponement of the launch to the autumn. Then the mission was completely removed from the launch manifest of 2022.

The reason for the incident was the unavailability of the ground simulator of the device. It is required for working out various technological operations, testing software and checking the response of probe systems to commands. Because of this, NASA had to suspend the mission and assemble an independent commission to monitor the status of the project and make a decision about its future fate.

Psyche’s New Flight Plan

Based on the results of the audit, the commission recommended that NASA continue the project. The auditors concluded that the mission participants will be able to solve the problems and prepare the probe for the next launch window, which will open on October 10, 2023.

Psyche in the artist’s image. Source: MIT

Psyche will be launched using a Falcon Heavy rocket. In 2026, the spacecraft will perform a gravitational maneuver in the vicinity of Mars. It will ensure the arrival to Psyche in August 2029 — 3.5 years later than the original flight plan suggested.

The scientific mission of Psyche is designed for 21 months. During this time, it will have to carefully study Psyche and determine the composition of its surface, which will allow it to establish the origin of the asteroid. Additionally, during the flight, the probe will test the experimental laser communication technology.

According to

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