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NASA Selects SpaceX Falcon Heavy to Launch Psyche Mission

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
February 29, 2020
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NASA’s Psyche mission to a distant metal asteroid will carry a revolutionary Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) package. This artist’s concept shows Psyche spacecraft with a five-panel array. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA has selected SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, to provide launch services for the agency’s Psyche mission. The Psyche mission currently is targeted to launch in July 2022 on a Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The total cost for NASA to launch Psyche and the secondary payloads is approximately $117 million, which includes the launch service and other mission related costs.

The Psyche mission will journey to a unique metal-rich asteroid, also named Psyche, which orbits the Sun between Mars and Jupiter. 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.

Deep within rocky, terrestrial planets, including Earth, scientists infer the presence of metallic cores, but these lie unreachably far below the planet’s rocky mantles and crusts. Because we cannot see or measure Earth’s core directly, the mission to Psyche offers a unique window into the violent history of collisions and accretion that created terrestrial planets.

The launch of Psyche will include two secondary payloads: Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers (EscaPADE), which will study the Martian atmosphere, and Janus, which will study binary asteroids.  

NASA’s Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center in Florida will manage the SpaceX launch service. The mission is led by Arizona State University. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is responsible for the mission’s overall management, system engineering, integration, testing and mission operations. Maxar Technologies is providing a high-power solar electric propulsion spacecraft chassis.

For more information about the Psyche mission, visit:

4 responses to “NASA Selects SpaceX Falcon Heavy to Launch Psyche Mission”

  1. Andrew Tubbiolo says:

    Congrats to SX and ASU! This will go a long way towards establishing large probe size, mass, and escape trajectories.

  2. therealdmt says:

    Looking forward to this one! The exposed core of a protoplanet – what an opportunity

    Glad NASA finally got on the Falcon Heavy customer list, too. That was starting to look awkward, what with the biggest, not to mention most inexpensive, heavy lifter in the world flying right out of their own spaceport, from their own most historic pad where they used to do great things, and NASA eschewing it. Anyway, that’s over and NASA is on board. Looking forward to future announcements of exciting and [relatively] affordable flights, too

  3. windbourne says:

    117M for a FH.
    Gads. I shudder to think of how much Boeing, L-Mart, ULA, Airbus, etc have been ripping off the world with their expensive launches.

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