The Psyche mission will proceed, NASA confirmed on Friday. A launch window will open on October 10, 2023.
Due to concerns with the mission development earlier this year, Psyche was unable to launch as scheduled in 2022. This prompted an internal assessment of the mission's ability to address these problems and launch successfully in 2023.
A project-proposed mission replan and a different, independent evaluation that was commissioned in June by NASA and the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California to look into the reasons for the delay served as the foundation for this continuation/termination review.
Thomas Zurbuchen, assistant administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, said, "I appreciate the hard work of the independent review board and the JPL-led team toward mission success." "The lessons from Psyche will be applied to every mission in our portfolio," the statement continued. Psyche's potential to advance our knowledge of the interior of our planet and its scientific breakthroughs during its existence excite me.
The independent review board is still finishing up its report, which will be made public once finished along with NASA's reaction.
The spacecraft's flight software is still being tested by the mission crew in advance of the launch in 2023. Similar to the August 2022 mission plan, the new trajectory will deliver the spacecraft toward the asteroid Psyche with a Mars gravity assist in 2026. The Psyche spacecraft will reach the asteroid in August 2029 after launching in October 2023.
JPL Director Laurie Leshin remarked, "I'm incredibly proud of the Psyche team. "During this examination, they have shown substantial advancements toward the upcoming launch date. I have faith that the plan will work out and am enthusiastic about the distinctive and significant science that this mission will return.
In 2017, NASA chose Psyche to examine the same-named, undiscovered metal-rich asteroid. It belongs to the agency's Discovery Program, a group of competitive, low-cost missions run by a lone principle investigator.
The Janus project, which explores twin binary asteroid systems and was initially intended to launch alongside Psyche on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket, is still under consideration by NASA. The Psyche spacecraft is integrated with NASA's Deep Space Optical Communications technology demonstration, demonstrating high-data-rate laser communications, and it will proceed as scheduled on the rescheduled launch date.
The Psyche mission is overseen by Arizona State University. The mission's general management, system engineering, integration and test, and mission operations are all handled by JPL, which is run by Caltech in Pasadena, California, on behalf of NASA. The spaceship chassis for the high-power solar electric propulsion is made by Maxar Technologies in Palo Alto, California.
The launch is being overseen by NASA's Launch Services Program, which has its headquarters at Florida's Kennedy Space Center. The Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, oversees NASA's Discovery Program, which includes the Psyche spacecraft.
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