NASA Selects SpaceX Falcon Heavy to Launch Psyche Metallic Asteroid Mission

NASA Selects SpaceX Falcon Heavy to Launch Psyche Metallic Asteroid Mission
NASA selects SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket to launch Psyche mission to metallic asteroid in 2022. File photo from Falcon Heavy 2 launch. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL- NASA has selected the heavy lift SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket to launch the agency’s Psyche mission on the first ever mission to a metallic asteroid.

Liftoff of the Psyche mission currently is targeted to launch in July 2022 on the triple core Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

NASA says the total cost for NASA to launch Psyche and the secondary payloads is approximately $117 million, which includes the launch service and other mission related costs.

Artists concept of the metal asteroid Psyche. Credit: NASA

“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,” according to NASA.

Deep within rocky, terrestrial planets, including Earth, scientists infer the presence of metallic cores, but these lie unreachably far below the planet’s rocky mantles and crusts. Because we cannot see or measure Earth’s core directly, the mission to Psyche offers a unique window into the violent history of collisions and accretion that created terrestrial planets.

This artist’s-concept illustration depicts the spacecraft of NASA’s Psyche mission near the mission’s target, the metal asteroid Psyche. The artwork shows the five-panel solar arrays planned for the spacecraft. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin

The launch of Psyche will include two secondary payloads: Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers (EscaPADE), which will study the Martian atmosphere, and Janus, which will study binary asteroids.
NASA’s Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center in Florida will manage the SpaceX launch service.

The mission is led by Arizona State University. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is responsible for the mission’s overall management, system engineering, integration, testing and mission operations. Maxar Technologies is providing a high-power solar electric propulsion spacecraft chassis.

Watch Ken’s continuing reports about Mars 2020 and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent ULA and SpaceX launches including Crew and Cargo Dragon, Solar Orbiter, In-Flight Abort and Starlink at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com

Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
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Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events

Ken has created hundreds of widely published Mars rover mosaics and lectures also about NASA’s Mars rovers

Ken’s upcoming outreach events:

Mar 4-5: 7 PM, Quality Inn Kennedy Space Center, Titusville, FL. “SpaceX CRS-20, IFA and Starlink launch, ULA Solar Orbiter launch.” Free. In hotel lobby. Photos for sale

 

Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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