NASA’s highly anticipated Psyche asteroid mission, set to explore a unique metal-rich asteroid, has encountered a setback. Multiple sources have reported that the mission’s launch, originally slated for October 5, has been delayed by a week due to an issue with the spacecraft itself. As a result, the liftoff is now scheduled for no earlier than October 12, pending resolution of the problem.
The launch of NASA's Psyche asteroid mission is being delayed a week due to an issue with the spacecraft. Liftoff on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket is now scheduled for no earlier than Oct. 12: https://t.co/HlV55zVEha pic.twitter.com/aUeyhExmwG
— Spaceflight Now (@SpaceflightNow) September 28, 2023
The billion-dollar mission, a collaborative effort between NASA and SpaceX, has faced its fair share of challenges, primarily attributed to software issues, which have caused it to fall more than a year behind its initial schedule. Now, with this additional delay, anticipation is growing for the historic mission.
The launch is set to take place from pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, with liftoff expected at 10:16 a.m. EDT (1416 UTC) on October 12. Prior to this, the Falcon Heavy rocket, responsible for propelling the Psyche probe on its extraordinary journey, is scheduled to undergo a critical static test firing of its 27 Merlin booster engines. Notably, this test will occur without the payload attached, as is customary for missions of this nature.
NASA has yet to provide official confirmation of the spacecraft issue or additional details about its nature. We will continue to monitor this situation closely and provide updates as new information becomes available.
The most recent official update from NASA, dated September 22, indicated that fueling and testing of the Psyche spacecraft were successfully completed. The spacecraft had been securely attached to a payload attach fitting for the Falcon Heavy on September 20 at a satellite processing facility near the Kennedy Space Center in Titusville, Florida, in preparation for encapsulation inside the rocket’s nose cone.
Once launched, the Psyche spacecraft will embark on a remarkable 2.2 billion-mile (3.5 billion-kilometer) journey through our solar system. To reach its destination, it will rely on an electric propulsion system and a gravitational slingshot from a flyby of Mars, scheduled for 2026. Its target is the asteroid Psyche, which orbits the Sun at an average distance of three astronomical units (Earth orbits at a distance of one astronomical unit).
The asteroid Psyche, with an irregular shape and a diameter of approximately 140 miles (226 kilometers), is predominantly composed of nickel and iron metals. Scientists believe it could be the remnant core of a protoplanet that began forming over four billion years ago during the early days of our solar system. NASA’s Psyche mission is poised to make history as the first spacecraft to explore such a metal-rich asteroid, potentially shedding light on the mysteries of our celestial origins. Read Similar Story