SpaceX to Send NASA Payloads to 'Psyche' Asteroid Under $117M Contract


Falcon Heavy to launch NASA Psyche asteroid mission

NASA has selected the SpaceX Falcon Heavy to carry the agency's Psyche mission.

The Psyche mission now is targeted to launch in July 2022 on a Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, the United States space agency said in a statement late Friday. The scientific experiments that the spacecraft will perform are in the design and fabrication phase.

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A Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center on February 6, 2018.

The mission will also see the assistance of NASA's Jet Propulsion for system engineering, integration, testing, and mission operations and Maxar Technologies for the provision of a power solar electric propulsion spacecraft chassis.

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Psyche is one of two missions NASA selected in January 2017 for its Discovery program of relatively low-priced planetary science missions. It orbits the plane between Mars and Jupiter while maintaining a distance of 235 million to 309 million miles from the Sun. Psyche's contents are worth approximately 130,000 times as much as every single human industry put together, according to experts. It is the only known body in the solar system that is nearly entirely metallic.

NASA believes that studying Psyche would provide detailed information about the formation of planets. Psyche could be a remnant of a violent collision with another planetary body billions of years ago.

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While the Earth's core is believed to also be composed primarily of iron, analysis of Psyche could potentially reveal greater details pertaining to the centre of our planet, which cannot be studied directly due to the impossibility of sending a probe thousands of miles underground.

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