NASA revives Psyche asteroid mission with October 2023 launch window

After a failed bid to launch the mission between September 20 and October 10, 2022, due to equipment issues, NASA is targeting a new launch window that opens on October 20, 2023

Psyche spacecraft
NASA, through its Psyche mission, aims to study some metal-rich asteroids, for instance, the Psyche asteroid. Psyche is a 140-mile-wide asteroid that orbits the Sun between Mars and Jupiter | Pic: NASA

NASA has decided to give its Psyche mission a second chance. The mission now targets a launch window that opens on October 20, 2023. This comes after the US space agency, due to development delays, missed the initial launch window that opened in September 2022.

The space agency has decided to go ahead with the mission following an internal review of the issues that led to a delay. The Psyche spacecraft will be launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Issues with the previous launch

NASA’s Psyche spacecraft was supposed to launch between September 20, 2022, and October 10, 2022. However, in June 2022, NASA delayed the launch because of issues related to flight software and testing equipment.

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Flight software plays the important role of controlling a spacecraft’s orientation and trajectory. It also effects a spacecraft’s ability to receive date and send it to Earth.

The issues could not be resolved before October 11, 2022, when the launch window closed.

New launch window

NASA, through its Psyche mission, aims to study some metal-rich asteroids, for instance, the Psyche asteroid. Psyche is a 140-mile-wide asteroid that orbits the Sun between Mars and Jupiter.

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The spacecraft, with its new launch window, will enter Psyche’s orbit in August 2029 rather than the earlier planned entry in 2026.

According to NASA, its Psyche spacecraft will orbit the target asteroid, map it using a magnetometer, a gamma-ray and neutron spectrometer, a multispectral imager, and a radio instrument.

(With agency inputs)

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