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SpaceX’s powerful Falcon Heavy rocket launched successfully Friday morning on a NASA mission bound for a distant asteroid.
NASA’s eponymous mission, aimed at the asteroid Psyche, is flying a spacecraft (about the width of a tennis court) on a journey of nearly six years and about 2.2 billion miles, arriving at the planetary body in July. 2029.
The launch lifted off at 10:19 a.m. ET from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
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NASA wants to study the composition of the asteroid, which the agency describes as “an unusual object, probably rich in metal.” The Psyche spacecraft is armed with a variety of scientific tools, such as instruments to study the asteroid’s magnetic field and chemical composition.
A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket carrying the Psyche spacecraft launches from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Oct. 13, 2023.
Chandan Khanna | AFP | fake images
The agency expects to spend about $1.2 billion on the Psyche mission, including development and operations costs. Of that total cost, NASA awarded SpaceX a contract of about $131 million to launch the mission.
The mission marks SpaceX’s eighth launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket, the company’s most powerful in operation. He landed the rocket’s pair of side boosters to recover and reuse them in future launches.