Washington, Oct 29 (UiTV/IANS) – The U.S. space agency has announced that it will launch its delayed Psyche mission, aimed at investigating an asteroid of similar name, in October next year.
NASA selected Psyche in 2017 to investigate a previously unexplored metal-rich asteroid of the same name. It is part of the agency’s Discovery Programme, a line of low-cost, competitive missions led by a single principal investigator.
Earlier this year, Psyche missed its planned 2022 launch period as a result of mission development problems, leading to an internal review of whether the mission would be able to overcome these issues to successfully launch in 2023.
“The lessons learned from Psyche will be implemented across our entire mission portfolio. I am excited about the science insights Psyche will provide during its lifetime and its promise to contribute to our understanding of our own planet’s core,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.”
The mission team continues to complete testing of the spacecraft’s flight software in preparation for the 2023 launch date.
The new flight profile is similar to the one originally planned for August 2022, using a Mars gravity assist in 2026 to send the spacecraft on its way to the asteroid Psyche.
With an October 2023 launch date, the Psyche spacecraft will arrive at the asteroid in August 2029, NASA said in a statement late on Friday.
“I am confident in the plan moving forward and excited by the unique and important science this mission will return,” said JPL Director Laurie Leshin.