Monday, May 09, 2022

NASA's Psyche Asteroid Mission Spacecraft at Kennedy Space Center

 NASA's Psyche Asteroid Mission Spacecraft at Kennedy Space Center

Mission Launch Expected: August 2022

Since its arrival on April 29, 2022, on a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III large military transport aircraft, the Psyche spacecraft has moved into the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where technicians removed it from its protective shipping container, rotated it to vertical, and have begun the final steps to prepare the spacecraft for launch. In the coming months, crews will perform a range of work including re-installing its solar arrays, re-integrating a radio, testing the telecommunications system, loading propellants, and encapsulating the spacecraft inside payload fairings before it leaves the facility and moves to the launch pad.

The Psyche spacecraft will explore a metal-rich asteroid between Mars and Jupiter, made largely of nickel-iron metal. The mission is targeting an Aug. 1, 2022 launch atop a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy. After arriving in 2026, the spacecraft will spend 21 months orbiting its namesake asteroid, mapping and gathering data, potentially providing insights on how planets with a metal core, including Earth, formed. The spacecraft will use solar-electric propulsion to travel approximately 1.5 billion miles to rendezvous with its namesake asteroid in 2026. 

The Psyche mission is led by Arizona State University (ASU). NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is managed for the agency by Caltech in Pasadena, California, is responsible for the mission’s overall management, system engineering, integration and testing, and mission operations. Maxar Technologies in Palo Alto, California, provided the high-power solar electric propulsion spacecraft chassis. NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP), based at Kennedy, is managing the launch. Psyche will be the 14th mission in the agency's Discovery program and LSP’s 100th primary mission.

For more information about NASA’s Psyche mission go to: 

Image Credit: NASA/Isaac Watson/Kim Shiflett

Image Dates: April 29-May 3, 2022

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