Watch: NASA launches Psyche mission in October

NASA launched a new six-year mission in October 2023 to explore the Psyche asteroid, which orbits the sun in the solar system’s main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

The Psyche mission — named after the asteroid it aims to reach — had a successful takeoff from the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Fla.

The asteroid is drawing intense interest among many scientists. According to “Scientists think the asteroid could be an exposed metallic core of an ancient protoplanet. If the metals on Psyche were on Earth, they would be worth more than the entire world economy.”

A scene from the NASA livestream of Psyche's takeoff.
NASA livestream of Psyche's takeoff. (Screenshot: NASA via Reuters)

The Psyche mission will arrive at the metallic asteroid — also known as an M-type asteroid, and it’s the largest one in the solar system — in 2029 and study it in orbit for about two years.

“Psyche is something of the poster child of the M-type asteroids,” Zoe Landsman, science adviser to the Exolith Lab at the University of Central Florida, told CNN. “Of a group of weird and mysterious asteroids, it is the biggest, weirdest and most mysterious.”

Of course, asteroid mining is still an object of science fiction, but some futurists and even some companies hope that will eventually change. And metallic asteroids like Psyche are on their minds.

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket with the Psyche spacecraft onboard is seen at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continued for the Psyche mission.
A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket with the Psyche spacecraft at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. ( Aubrey Gemignani/NASA via AP)