NASA and SpaceX are now targeting Oct. 12 at 10:16 a.m. EDT for a Falcon Heavy launch of the Psyche mission from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center. The change allows the NASA team to complete verifications of the parameters used to control the Psyche spacecraft’s nitrogen cold gas thrusters. These thrusters are used to point the vehicle in support of science, power, thermal and other demands, such as spacecraft orientation and momentum management. The parameters were recently adjusted in response to updated, warmer temperature predictions for these thrusters. Operating the thrusters within temperature limits is essential to ensure the long-term health of the units.
The verification activities involve rerunning simulations and fine-tuning adjustments as required to the flight parameters and procedures.
NASA, SpaceX, and Psyche mission managers met today, Sept. 28, to conduct a Flight Readiness Review (FRR) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. During the FRR, teams provided an update on the mission status, and certified the readiness to initiate final launch preparation activities including a static fire test on Sept. 29.
Psyche has launch opportunities every day between Oct. 12 and Oct. 25.
Digital content creators are invited to register to attend the launch of NASA’s Psyche spacecraft and create content based on the experience. The Psyche mission will journey to a unique metal-rich asteroid orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter.
Psyche is scheduled to lift off at 10:38 a.m. EDT on Thursday, Oct. 5, on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA’s Launch Services Program is managing the launch.
If your passion is to communicate and engage people online, then this event is for you! Seize the opportunity to see and share the #MissionToPsyche launch. A maximum of 35 social media users will be selected to attend this two-day event (Oct. 4-5, 2023) and will be given access similar to news media.
NASA Social participants will have the opportunity to:
View a launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket
Tour NASA facilities at Kennedy Space Center
Meet and interact with Psyche science and engineering experts
Meet fellow space enthusiasts who are active on social media
NASA Social registration for the Psyche launch opens on Tuesday, Aug. 22, and the deadline to apply is 12 p.m. EDT Monday, Aug. 28. All social applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
NASA’s Psyche spacecraft has completed another milestone. Solar arrays are now ready to power the spacecraft on a 2.5-billion-mile (4-billion-kilometer) journey to a metal-rich asteroid to help us learn more about planet formation. A team of engineers and technicians received, prepared, and installed the solar arrays on the spacecraft at the Astrotech Space Operations Facility near the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
NASA and Rocket Lab are targeting no earlier than 1:30 a.m. EDT (5:30 p.m. NZST) Monday, May 22, for the launch of the agency’s TROPICS (Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats) mission, on an Electron rocket from Launch Complex 1 in Māhia, New Zealand.
The launch will place a pair of CubeSats in low Earth orbit, and they will join another pair of TROPICS satellites that made it to orbit last week after launching on an Electron rocket from New Zealand. Together the four satellites will orbit in two equally spaced orbital planes, which will distribute them for optimal coverage over the tropics. The orbiting TROPICS constellation of satellites will study the formation and development of tropical cyclones, known as hurricanes in the Atlantic and typhoons in the West Pacific, making observations of temperature, precipitation, water vapor, and cloud ice more often than what is possible with current weather satellites. They they will join the TROPICS Pathfinder satellite, in orbit since its launch in June of 2021.
Team members successfully sent commands to the first CubeSat at 1:48 a.m. EDT, May 8. Subsequently, they established communications with the second CubeSat at 6:31 a.m. EDT. Read the NASA release here.
Two TROPICS CubeSats successfully deployed from a Rocket Lab Electron rocket after launch.
The team is working toward signal acquisition from the pair of TROPICS CubeSats. NASA will continue to assess data from periodic pass opportunities. It is not unexpected for CubeSats to take some time to establish communications. We will provide confirmation when signal is acquired.
The second pair of TROPICS CubeSats is planned to launch aboard another Rocket Lab Electron rocket, named Coming To A Storm Near You, in about two weeks from Launch Complex 1 at Māhia, New Zealand.
Follow launch updates on this blog and stay connected with the mission on social media. This concludes our coverage of this launch.
NASA’s TROPICS CubeSats are expected to have deployed from the Rocket Lab’s Electron kick stage. The two CubeSats will reach low-Earth orbit to begin their mission.
Each of the CubeSats was designed to last approximately two years, but analysis, lifetime testing of key parts, and on-orbit experiences with similar hardware could help the satellites surpass their design lifetime.