One year after NASA announced an indefinite delay of a much-anticipated mission to visit a metal-rich asteroid, the agency said Monday that the Psyche spacecraft is back on track. The Psyche mission is now scheduled to launch in four months on a Falcon Heavy rocket, and everyone involved in the project feels good about that date.
"We believe Psyche is on a positive course for an October 2023 launch," said Thomas Young, who chaired an independent review board that NASA convened last summer after the mission was delayed.
If the mission does launch this fall, the spacecraft will reach asteroid Psyche in August 2029. There, it will go into orbit for 26 months to gain insights into planetary formation, understand the interior of terrestrial planets like Earth, and examine a world that is made largely of metal. The mission is also of interest to the nascent asteroid mining community, which seeks to learn about the potential value harbored by these relatively rare, metallic asteroids.