NASA’s Psyche Spacecraft Starts Processing at Kennedy Space Center

Psyche Spacecraft

This artist’s concept depicts NASA’s Psyche spacecraft in space. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

Bound for an asteroid of the same name, the orbiter spacecraft is undergoing final preparations for its August launch.

Since its arrival on April 29, the Psyche spacecraft has moved into the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where technicians removed it from its protective shipping container, rotated it to vertical, and have begun the final steps to prepare the spacecraft for launch.

Over the next few months, crews will perform a range of work including reinstalling solar arrays, reintegrating a radio, testing the telecommunications system, loading propellants, and encapsulating the spacecraft inside payload fairings before it leaves the facility and moves to the launch pad.

Psyche Spacecraft in Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility

The Psyche spacecraft sits in the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida after traveling across the country from a clean room at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.
Credit: NASA/Isaac Watson

The Psyche spacecraft will explore a metal-rich asteroid between Mars and Jupiter, that is believed to be composed mostly of nickel-iron metal. The mission is targeting an August 1, 2022, launch atop a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy. After arriving in 2026, the spacecraft will spend 21 months orbiting its namesake asteroid, mapping and gathering data, potentially providing insights on how planets with a metal core, including Earth, formed.

Join the journey as NASA’s Psyche launches in 2022 to explore a unique metal-rich asteroid of the same name, which is orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

More About the Mission

Arizona State University leads the Psyche mission. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which is managed for the agency by Caltech in Pasadena, California, is responsible for the mission’s overall management, system engineering, integration and test, and mission operations. Maxar is providing the high-power solar electric propulsion spacecraft chassis. Psyche was selected in 2017 as the 14th mission under NASA’s Discovery Program.

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