Press "Enter" to skip to content

A Slim 20%: Weather Concerns for NASA’s Psyche Rocket Launch

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket with the Psyche spacecraft onboard is seen as it is rolled to the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Psyche mission, Tuesday, October. 10, 2023, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA’s Psyche spacecraft will travel to a metal-rich asteroid by the same name orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter to study it’s composition. The spacecraft also carries the agency’s Deep Space Optical Communications technology demonstration, which will test laser communications beyond the Moon. Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

Weather officials with Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s 45th Weather Squadron predict a 20% chance of favorable weather conditions for Thursday’s launch, with the anvil cloud, cumulous cloud, and surface electric field rules being the primary weather concerns.

SpaceXCommonly known as SpaceX, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. is a private American aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company that was founded by Elon Musk in 2002. Headquartered in Hawthorne, California, the company designs, manufactures, and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. SpaceX's ultimate goal is to reduce space transportation costs and enable the colonization of Mars.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>SpaceX is targeting 10:16 a.m. EDTEDT is an abbreviation for Eastern Daylight Time, the time zone for the eastern coast of the United States and Canada when observing daylight saving time (spring/summer). It is four hours behind Coordinated Universal Time. New York City, Washington, D.C., Boston, and the Kennedy Space Center are in the Eastern Time Zone (ET).” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>EDT Thursday, October 12, to launch NASAEstablished in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government that succeeded the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. Its vision is "To discover and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity." Its core values are "safety, integrity, teamwork, excellence, and inclusion." NASA conducts research, develops technology and launches missions to explore and study Earth, the solar system, and the universe beyond. It also works to advance the state of knowledge in a wide range of scientific fields, including Earth and space science, planetary science, astrophysics, and heliophysics, and it collaborates with private companies and international partners to achieve its goals.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>NASA’s Psyche spacecraft atop its Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Psyche has launch opportunities through October 25.

Psyche Transport From Astrotech to LC 39A

Teams transport NASA’s encapsulated Psyche spacecraft from the Astrotech Space Operations Facility in Titusville to Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday, October 6, 2023. Psyche will launch atop a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. Liftoff is targeted for 10:16 a.m. EDT on Thursday, October 12. Riding with Psyche is a pioneering technology demonstration, NASA’s Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) experiment. Credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

Psyche is the first mission to explore an asteroid with a surface that likely contains substantial amounts of metal rather than rock or ice.  NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at Kennedy Space Center, is responsible for the insight and approval of the launch vehicle and manages the launch service for the Psyche mission.

[embedded content]
The science briefing ahead of launch for NASA’s Psyche spacecraft, a mission to a unique metal-rich asteroid. Psyche will travel nearly six years and about 2.2 billion miles (3.6 billion kilometers) – to an asteroid of the same name, which is orbiting the Sun between MarsMars is the second smallest planet in our solar system and the fourth planet from the sun. It is a dusty, cold, desert world with a very thin atmosphere. Iron oxide is prevalent in Mars' surface resulting in its reddish color and its nickname "The Red Planet." Mars' name comes from the Roman god of war.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>Mars and JupiterJupiter is the largest planet in the solar system and the fifth planet from the sun. It is a gas giant with a mass greater then all of the other planets combined. Its name comes from the Roman god Jupiter.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>Jupiter. Scientists believe Psyche could be part of the core of a planetesimal, likely made of iron-nickel metal. The ore will not be mined but studied from orbit in hopes of giving researchers a better idea of what may make up Earth’s core. The Psyche spacecraft also will host a pioneering technology demonstration: NASA’s DSOC (Deep Space Optical Communications) experiment. This laser communications system will operate for the first two years of Psyche’s journey. Credit: NASA/Chris Chamberland

Also today, officials from NASA, Arizona State University, and MITMIT is an acronym for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It is a prestigious private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts that was founded in 1861. It is organized into five Schools: architecture and planning; engineering; humanities, arts, and social sciences; management; and science. MIT's impact includes many scientific breakthroughs and technological advances. Their stated goal is to make a better world through education, research, and innovation.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>MIT discussed the launch of Psyche and the Deep Space Optical Communications experiment during a science briefing. (See video above.)

Participants included:

  • Lori Glaze, Planetary Science Division director, NASA Headquarters
  • Lindy Elkins-Tanton, Psyche principal investigator, Arizona State University
  • Ben Weiss, Psyche deputy principal investigator and magnetometer lead, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • David Oh, chief engineer for operations, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPLThe Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center that was established in 1936. It is owned by NASA and managed by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). The laboratory's primary function is the construction and operation of planetary robotic spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA's Deep Space Network. JPL implements programs in planetary exploration, Earth science, space-based astronomy and technology development, while applying its capabilities to technical and scientific problems of national significance.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>JPL)
  • Abi Biswas, project technologist for Deep Space Optical Communications, JPL

Source: SciTechDaily