It has recently come to light that NASA’s Psyche spacecraft has been delivered to the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, for final testing and launch operations. NASA has revealed that Psyche spacecraft will finish assembly and undergo rigorous checkout and testing over the next year.
For the uninitiated, Psyche’s target is a metal-rich asteroid named ‘Psyche’ which orbits the sun in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. According to the scientists, Psyche is composed of largely iron and nickel and could be the core of an early planet. Scientists will get deeper insights into the formation of Earth and other planets by exploring the asteroid Psyche that’s about 140 miles wide.
“Seeing this big spacecraft chassis arrive at JPL from Maxar is among the most thrilling of the milestones we’ve experienced on what has already been a 10-year journey,” said Arizona State University’s Lindy Elkins-Tanton, who as principal investigator leads the Psyche mission. “Building this complex, precision piece of engineering during the year of COVID is absolutely a triumph of human determination and excellence.”
NASA states that the assembly, test, and launch operations phase kicked off on March 16, when engineers began checking out the JPL-supplied subsystems, the flight computer, the communications system, and the low-power distribution system to ensure they’re working well. Once the Psyche spacecraft has been fully assembled by next year, it will be shipped to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in advance of its August 2022 target launch date.
Psyche spacecraft will fly by Mars for a gravity assist in May 2023 and in early 2026. It will then go into orbit around the asteroid for 21 months to gather science data.
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