NASA has set a launch date for the interplanetary spacecraft Psyche. It will depart for its destination on October 5, 2023.
Psyche’s objective is the 278-kilometer asteroid Psyche, notable for its high metal content (primarily iron and nickel). According to a popular hypothesis, it represents the core of a protoplanet that perished during the early formation of the Solar System. Psyche is tasked with conducting a detailed study of this metallic asteroid and confirming or refuting this assumption.
Currently, NASA experts are completing the final preparations for the launch. They have loaded 1,085 kilograms of xenon propellant onto the spacecraft and folded its large solar panels. Engineers will soon begin the process of integrating Psyche on the Falcon Heavy rocket.
The launch of Psyche is scheduled for October 5. If the spacecraft cannot depart for space on that day, NASA has several backup dates. The ballistic window for Psyche’s flight will remain open until October 25.
Psyche’s flight to its destination will take six years. In May 2026, it will make a flyby of Mars, using the planet’s gravity to gain additional speed. The spacecraft will reach Psyche in August 2029. The nominal scientific mission program is planned for 21 months.