NASA Announces Launch Date For Visit To Asteroid Worth 70,000 Times Global Economy

NASA first identified an asteroid known as 16 Psyche back in 2017 and has been planning to visit it ever since. The mission, which is reported to cost around $967 million, has been in the planning stages ever since. A February 2021 Forbes report said the trip was in its “final phase” at the time and was originally scheduled to depart in October 2022. However, after experiencing a delay, that didn’t happen. However, everything is ready to go for later this year. Given the apparent worth of 16 Psyche, it’s no wonder they’re in a hurry to get there.

How much is 16 Psyche worth?

While most asteroids are made of either ice or rock, 16 Psyche is rare in that its made of nearly all metallic iron and nickel. Because of this, scientists believe that mining the asteroid could be worth $10,000 quadrillion. In other words, 75,000 times more than the world economy, which was estimated to be $133 trillion in 2019.

When will the mission to 16 Psyche set off?

NASA revealed in a press release that it looks like the mission will begin in October 2023. “After a one-year delay to complete critical testing, the Psyche project is targeting an October 2023 launch on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. NASA’s Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) technology demonstration, testing high-data-rate laser communications, is integrated into the Psyche spacecraft,” the release said. “The silver-colored cylinder shown in the photo is the sunshade for DSOC, and the gold blanketing is the aperture cover for the DSOC payload.”

How long will it take to get there?

If all goes according to plan, it’s estimated that the vessel will reach the asteroid in August 2029. Given that 16 Psyche has such a tremendous worth, that’s a very short way to go for a potentially amazing payoff. Of course, there’s nothing to keep other global space agencies from launching their own missions. And, given the value, that seems pretty likely.

Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @jenniferlstill