NASA’s historic uncrewed mission to the metallic asteroid Psyche is now, also, a SpaceX jam. Elon Musk’s rocket company will be responsible for getting the probe launched onboard a Falcon Heavy.
“The Psyche mission will journey to a unique metal-rich asteroid, also named Psyche, which orbits the Sun between Mars and Jupiter,” reads a NASA press release about the collab. “The asteroid is considered unique, as it appears to largely be made of the exposed nickel-iron core of an early planet – one of the building blocks of our solar system.”
Power Launch Date
If all goes well, the mission will lift off in summer 2022 from Cape Canaveral.
The nimble Psyche probe — which, yes, confusingly has the same name as the asteroid it’s exploring — will be loaded with equipment from Earthling researchers, which it’ll use to investigate the asteroid’s composition.
According to one estimate, the materials that make up Psyche are worth a staggering $10,000 quadrillion — though, of course, it would be impractically expensive to bring them back to Earth with current-generation tech.
NASA’s goal, though, isn’t financial. Instead, it’s hoping that new data about Psyche will help explain the early history of the solar system.
READ MORE: NASA Awards Launch Services Contract for the Psyche Mission [NASA]