NASA announced that the launch of the Psyche probe (Psyche) to the asteroid of the same name, scheduled for August 1, has been postponed until at least September 20. The iron-nickel asteroid, 226 km wide, is the “embryo” of the planet in the form of a protoplanetary core. The probe will study its structure and composition – this is the most valuable information about the early evolution of terrestrial planets and not only.
The Psyche probe was being assembled at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California. There, he underwent comprehensive testing of systems in the winter and spring of this year, and in early May he was delivered to the Space Center. Kennedy, for final inspection and installation on the SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch vehicle. As it turned out during testing of the onboard equipment of the probe, “the software that controls the spacecraft does not work as planned.”
NASA experts do not yet know the cause of the problem that causes the software to work incorrectly. But they hope to sort it out within the next few weeks. The time for troubleshooting and troubleshooting is chosen with a margin, which allows us to hope for a not too long delay with the launch.
The Psyche probe is interesting not only for its task – to explore the protoplanetary core in orbit between Mars and Jupiter. It is also valuable for its design. About 80% of the volume of the probe is an electric (plasma) power plant, which will be sent on a long-distance space journey beyond the orbit of the Moon for the first time. Another technological innovation of the probe will be a pilot laser facility for deep space communications (DSOC). I want all this to fly where it is necessary and how it is necessary.
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