NASA’s Psyche Mission is similar to other NASA missions in some ways, but different in other ways. Psyche is similar in that bold and innovative technologies are being used to push the boundaries of deep-space exploration. Psyche is different however, in that the launch has been pushed forward for one year due to a delay in critical testing. Launch of Psyche is now expected in October 2023.
Psyche will be launched from Earth using a SpaceX Heavy Falcon Rocket. This launch system has been used before, and should be effective for its purpose. Once in deep space, however, an alternate method will be required for propelling Psyche to its ultimate destination, the Comet Psyche. As explained by NASA, “The unique, metal-rich Psyche asteroid may be part of the core of a planetesimal, a building block of rocky planets in our solar system. Learning more about the asteroid could tell us more about how our own planet formed and help answer fundamental questions about Earth’s own metal core and the formation of our solar system.”
Once beyond the orbit of the moon, Psyche will use solar electric propulsion for its 1.5 billion ( with a B ) mile trip to the asteroid Psyche which will conclude in 2026. This will be the first spacecraft to use “Hall-Effect Thrusters” for propulsion. As explained by NASA, this thruster technology “traps electrons in a magnetic field and uses them to ionize onboard propellant, expending much less propellant than equivalent chemical rockets.”
As a secondary mission for this spacecraft, Psyche will be used to demonstrate and test Deep Space Optical Communications. This capability will become increasingly important as future missions are planned for areas so deep in space that current communication methods may become infeasible.
As spacecraft and space missions become more complex, the rockets that propel them will also need to become more complex. Rocket advances must keep up with Spacecraft advances, and the Psyche Mission is one indication that Rocket scientists are up to the challenge.
If you want to learn more about Rocket Science, consider taking ATI’s upcoming course on the subject. You can learn more about the course, and register for it, at Rockets & Launch Vehicles – Selection & Design
This four-day course provides an overview of rockets and missiles, including a fourth day covering advanced selection and design processes. The course provides a wide practical knowledge in rocket and missile issues and technologies.
The course is right around the corner in May, so if you are interested, register today.
And, as always, if want to see the full list of courses offered by ATI, you can find that, and other interesting information at www.aticourses.com