Aerospace company SpaceX will provide launch services for NASA’s Psyche mission. The space agency announced the decision. SpaceX is a private American company. It is owned by billionaire and space enthusiast Elon Musk. The company is involved in the business of providing aerospace and space transportation services The Psyche mission includes a journey to a metal-rich asteroid in the space. The asteroid is called Psyche. It is considered unique as it appears to largely be made of the exposed nickel-iron core of an early planet. The nickel-iron core is also one of the building blocks of the solar system. It orbits the Sun between Mars and Jupiter, the fourth and fifth planet in the solar system, respectively.
NASA said the estimated cost of the mission and the secondary payloads is projected to be around USD 117 million. Scientists believe that deep within the rocky structure of terrestrial planets metallic cores are present. But these metallic cores are far from human reach. NASA said scientists cannot measure Earth’s core directly. The Psyche mission will help scientists to understand the origin of planetary cores. The data will unfold the violent history of collisions in the solar systems. It is believed that terrestrial planets were created due to the violent collisions in the past. NASA said the Psyche mission’s launch will have two secondary payloads. They are Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers and Janus. The EscaPADE will study the Martian atmosphere and Janus will examine binary asteroids.
The Psyche mission is slated for launch in July 2022. NASA said it will use a Falcon Heavy rocket for the mission. It will be launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. As per the plan, the spacecraft will enter the Psyche orbit in January 2026. Radar observations show Psyche is an iron-nickel composition. It is also believed to be the heaviest known M-type asteroid. The mission was proposed by planetary scientist and professor Lindy Elkins-Tanton of Arizona State University. It was selected for NASA’s Discovery Program in January 2017. NASA hopes it will provide some juicy results about the history of terrestrial planets.