SpaceX announced today that it has won a contract to launch NASA’s 2022 exploration of the mineral-rich asteroid Psyche, which includes launch services and other mission-related costs, worth a total of $117 million,media reported. The Psyche mission will use a Falcon Heavy rocket from the 39A launch site at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Psyche is known to be located between Mars and Jupiter and consists of the exposed nickel-iron core of an early planet that represents fragments of one of the earliest cornerstones of the solar system.
NASA hopes the Psyche exploration mission will provide clues about the evolutionary history of Earth-like planets through research into the asteroid’s own protoplanetary materials.
It is understood that NASA’s Psyche mission includes two secondary payloads: the Escape and Plasma And Dynamics Explorers and Janus missions, which will study the Martian atmosphere and the Janus, which will study binary asteroids.
NASA says the launch service at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida will manage SpaceX’s launch service, which is led by Arizona State University. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, will be the commander-in-chief of the mission, which will include systems engineering, integration, testing, and mission operations.