WASHINGTON — A spaceship has been cleared for launch to a $10 quadrillion asteroid this year.
NASA gave the go ahead this week for the Psyche mission to take off in October to study the space rock that could be worth more than the entire global economy.
The craft will journey to a unique metal-rich asteroid orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter some 499,555,545 km away from Earth.
After a one-year delay to complete critical testing, NASA announced the Psyche project is targeting late fall for the launch on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.
NASA explains: “Steps taken by NASA, the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California and Caltech to put the Psyche mission on track for an October 2023 launch have been outstanding, according to an independently appointed review board.”
“NASA and JPL convened the board last summer after the Psyche mission team requested to delay the spacecraft’s August 2022 launch to a metal-rich asteroid of the same name.”
In its November 2022 report, the independent review board made extensive recommendations to address both the project and JPL’s institutional issues that contributed to the launch delay.
After thorough follow-up reviews with the Psyche project, JPL and Caltech, the board’s May 30 report finds the actions taken since November exceeded expectations.
Caltech manages JPL for NASA.
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Edited by Daisy Atino and Diane Walsh