NASA’s Psyche mission, which aims to explore a large metallic asteroid, is finally set to launch in October after facing several delays. The spacecraft has been fully fueled with xenon and preparations are currently underway for its integration with the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.
However, the mission now faces a potential challenge as Congress needs to pass a stopgap spending bill to ensure government funding beyond September 30. If a continuing resolution (CR) is not passed, there’s a possibility of a partial government shutdown that could have a significant impact on ongoing NASA missions.
Acknowledging the potential hurdle, NASA’s planetary science division director, Lori Glaze, stated that the agency would seek an exception to allow the Psyche mission to proceed despite the funding uncertainties. The mission, initially scheduled for launch in August 2021, faced multiple delays due to testing and institutional issues at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Adding to the mission’s setbacks, the cost has also increased to approximately $1.2 billion from the initial estimate of $996.4 million. As a result of the delays, Psyche’s arrival at the asteroid will now be pushed back to 2029.
Once the spacecraft reaches the asteroid, it will spend over two years studying it using a variety of instruments. The focus of the mission is to gain insights into the cores of terrestrial planets. It’s important to note that despite the mission attracting attention for its valuation of the asteroid at an incredible $10,000 quadrillion, the principal investigator has clarified that this value is false. Furthermore, there is currently no technology available to bring the asteroid back to Earth.
As the launch date grows closer, anticipation and excitement are building within the scientific community and space enthusiasts alike. The Psyche mission promises to provide invaluable information about the composition and structure of these unique metallic asteroids, ultimately enhancing our understanding of planetary evolution.
Stay tuned for updates on the Psyche mission and its incredible journey of discovery.
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