Due to a software problem, NASA postpones the launch of the Psyche mission

The Psyche mission’s launch window for 2022, which will be open from August 1 to October 11, will end before the spacecraft’s flight software is ready. A delay in the delivery of the software and its test equipment prevented the Psyche team from having enough time to perform pre-launch testing. Engineers want to be absolutely sure that the software will work as expected when the spacecraft is in flight.

During testing at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, engineers discovered a compatibility issue in the simulators on the software test bed. The problem has since been corrected, but there is not enough time for a full verification and a 2022 launch. unbelievable. We have to do things right.

Hundreds of people have put tremendous effort into Psyche during this pandemic, and the work will continue as the complex flight software is extensively tested and evaluated,” said JPL Director Laurie Leshin.

“The decision to delay the launch was not easy, but it was the right one,” she said. The mission schedule makes things difficult for the future. A launch in 2022 would have delivered the spacecraft to asteroid Psyche in 2026. But future years’ launch times mean the spacecraft would arrive much later due to different orbital positions, such as 2029 or 2030.

The delay also puts an end to two projects that were to be flown with Psyche on the same SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket at launch. The first is NASA’s Janus mission, which was designed to study twin binary asteroid systems, and the second is the demonstration of deep space optical communications technology.

This demonstration is intended to test high data rate laser communications that could change the way ground crews communicate with spacecraft in deep space. The spacecraft also features a number of innovations, such as ion propulsion rather than traditional rocket fuel.

If the decision to launch Psyche is made in the coming years, the spacecraft will embark on a journey of 450 million kilometers. Asteroid Psyche is so rich in metals that some scientists believe it is the exposed core of a planetesimal, or a forming planet that has separated into several layers.