SpaceX’s powerful Falcon Heavy rocket will send NASA’s Psyche asteroid mission skyward today (Oct. 13), weather permitting, and you can watch the action live.
The Falcon Heavy is scheduled to launch the Psyche spacecraft today at 10:19 a.m. EDT (1419 GMT) from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. That assumes Mother Nature cooperates, which is certainly no guarantee on the stormy Space Coast; current forecasts predict just a 40% chance of weather good enough for launch.
You can watch the action live here at Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV, beginning about 45 minutes before liftoff.
If all goes according to plan, Falcon Heavy’s two side boosters will come back to Earth for a landing at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, which is next door to KSC, about 8.25 minutes after liftoff. It will be the fourth launch and landing for each booster, according to a SpaceX mission description.
The Falcon Heavy’s central core booster is flying for the first and only time today. It will splash into the Atlantic Ocean when its launch work is done.
The Heavy’s upper stage, which sits atop the central booster, will finish carrying Psyche to space and deploy it there about 62.5 minutes after launch.
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The probe will then begin its long deep-space journey to Psyche, a bizarre metallic asteroid that lies in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
Scientists think the space rock Psyche, which is about 173 miles (280 kilometers) wide, may be the exposed core of an ancient protoplanet — a type of object they’ve never seen up close before. Psyche will reach its space rock target in 2029, then study it from orbit for about two years thereafter.
If bad weather or a technical issue scuttles today’s launch attempt, SpaceX and NASA can try again soon: The mission has daily liftoff opportunities through Oct. 25.
The Falcon Heavy, the second-most powerful rocket in operation today, has flown seven times to date. The Psyche mission will be the rocket’s first for NASA.