US launching mission to capture asteroid worth $10,000,000,000,000,000,000 this year
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Featured Image Credit: NASA / Handout
NASA is gearing up to blast off to an asteroid that’s filled with precious metals and believed to be worth around $10 quintillion - or $10,000,000,000,000,000,000, if you’d prefer it in numbers.
The asteroid, known as 16 Psyche, is 173 miles wide and is thought to be made up of gold, iron, and nickel.
The asteroid’s ore is believed to be worth a staggering $10,000 quadrillion.
But although the asteroid is thought to be worth more than the entire Earth’s economy - NASA’s interest in it is purely scientific.
The space agency is hoping that the asteroid will help them learn more about planetary cores and how planets form.
In a statement, NASA said: “With less than 100 days to go before its launch, teams of engineers and technicians are working almost around the clock to ensure the orbiter is ready to journey 2.5 billion miles to a metal-rich asteroid that may tell us more about planetary cores and how planets form.”
NASA’s Psyche spacecraft is set to launch atop a SpaceX Falcon Heavy from Space Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center at 10.38 am EDT on October 5, with ‘additional opportunities’ scheduled for later the same month. It will be the Falcon rocket’s first interplanetary launch.
Henry Stone, Psyche’s project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California said he’s feeling ‘excited’ ahead of the launch in October.
Giving an update this week, he said: “The team and I are now counting down the days to launch.
“Our focus has shifted to safely completing the final mechanical closeout of the spacecraft and preparing the team for operations. The team is conducting numerous training activities to ensure that we are prepared and ready.
"It’s a very busy time, but everyone is very excited and looking forward to the launch.”
NASA had originally planned to launch the spacecraft last year, but the date was pushed back.
According to a press release shared earlier this week, the team have ‘recently completed a comprehensive test campaign of the flight software and installed it on the spacecraft, clearing the hurdle that kept Psyche from making its original 2022 launch date’.
Luis Dominguez, the systems and electrical lead for assembly, test, and launch operations said: “We are moving forward. We’re confident that when we’re on the pad, we’ll be ready to hit the button. For all of us, we’ll be excited to launch this bird.”