September 7, 2023
NASA’s Psyche Mission on Track for Liftoff Next Month
Bound for a metal-rich asteroid of the same name, the Psyche mission is targeting Oct. 5 to launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The spacecraft’s solar arrays are folded like an envelope into their stowed position. Xenon gas – fuel for the journey to the asteroid belt – is loaded. All four thrusters have passed their final tests. Engineers have confirmed the massive high-gain antenna is set to transmit data. The software is tested and ready. The science instruments – a multispectral imager, magnetometer, and gamma-ray and neutron spectrometer – that will investigate the asteroid Psyche are poised for action.
NASA’s Psyche spacecraft has less than 30 days to go before the opening of its launch period, which runs from Thursday, Oct. 5 through Wednesday, Oct. 25. What the mission learns from the metal-rich asteroid may tell us more about how planets form.
“These missions take so many people and so much meticulous, rigorous, personally driven work,” said Lindy Elkins-Tanton, principal investigator for Psyche at Arizona State University. “I am ready to be ecstatic. We all are, but we are not ecstatic yet. Let’s launch and establish communications – then we can scream, jump, and hug each other!”