NASA Psyche Mission To Be Carried By SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket

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NASA is gearing up for the Psyche mission and SpaceX will be launching it, with a new deal signed between the space agencies. The SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will launch the spacecraft and lead the NASA Psyche mission. The mission involves visiting a unique metal asteroid to help understand the planet's formation.

SpaceX Wins Deal To Launch NASA Psyche Mission

 

NASA Psyche Mission

NASA began formulating plans to visit Psyche back in 2017 and was finalized last year. Astronomers and scientists believed that a unique metal asteroid holds the answers to a planet's formation. Researchers say that the asteroid could be the exposed nickel-ion core of an early planet that burst due to extreme violent collisions.

"The Psyche mission will journey to a unique metal-rich asteroid, also named Psyche, which orbits the Sun between Mars and Jupiter. The asteroid is considered unique, as it appears to largely be made of the exposed nickel-iron core of an early planet - one of the building blocks of our solar system," NASA said in a statement.

The NASA Psyche mission will explore the asteroid. The finding of the mission could further help understand the formation of our solar system and also shed light on the violent history of collisions and accretion that created terrestrial planets. The mineral-rich asteroid is situated between the planets Mars and Jupiter.

SpaceX, NASA Sign New Deal

According to NASA, the Psyche mission will cost approximately $117 million. The new deal between NASA and SpaceX will involve the Falcon Heavy spacecraft for the first time. SpaceX updated on its official Twitter handle that the NASA mission will require the highest level launch vehicle reliability, provided with the Falcon Heavy.

 

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory will be the overall manager for the mission. This includes system engineering, integration, testing, and mission operations. The Psyche mission will include two secondary payloads, namely The Escape and Plasma Acceleration; and Dynamic Explorers.

The spacecraft's propulsion chassis is a high-power solar electric rig provided by Maxar Space Solutions. The current schedule will have the Psyche spacecraft beginning the journey in July 2022, set to liftoff from the Launch Complex 39A at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

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