NASA has given the signal to commence the final design and fabrication phase of a mission to study a certain asteroid. The Psyche Mission's approved Phase C will include the development of detailed mission plans and the conclusion of spacecraft assembly and testing, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said Tuesday.
"With the transition into this new mission phase, we are one big step closer to uncovering the secrets of Psyche, a giant mysterious metallic asteroid, and that means the world to us," said Lindy Elkins-Tanton, principal investigator for the mission.
After Phase C's completion, the mission will go through three more phases. The spacecraft will undergo final preparations in 2021 and launch in August 2022 as part of Phase D. The deployed unit will then collect science data and operate in deep space under Phase E. The final phase, also known as Phase F, would mark the mission's conclusion, as the team decommissions the spacecraft and archives collected data.
The Psyche mission seeks to determine the asteroid's formation history and other characteristics under the space agency's Discovery Program. Arizona State University leads the effort with NASA's management support. The spacecraft's arrival on the Psyche Asteroid is scheduled for Jan. 31, 2026.