NASA Awards Psyche Launch to SpaceX, Who Now Has Its First Mars Launch on the Books

Meant to link to this last week, but this is big news:

NASA has selected SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, to provide launch services for the agency’s Psyche mission. The Psyche mission currently is targeted to launch in July 2022 on a Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The total cost for NASA to launch Psyche and the secondary payloads is approximately $117 million, which includes the launch service and other mission related costs.

The launch of Psyche will include two secondary payloads (pending review and final selection): Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers (EscaPADE), which will study the Martian atmosphere, and Janus, which will study binary asteroids.

At $117 million, Falcon Heavy is a hell of a deal for NASA. It’s no surprise, then, that SpaceX has been winning a lot of NASA science missions lately. Just within the last year, they’ve been selected to launch DARTPACEIXPE, and now Psyche.

The bit of info that doesn’t seem to be getting the pomp that it deserves is that, after launching in July 2022, Psyche (and obviously EscaPADE) will be doing a Mars flyby in 2023.

SpaceX officially has its first Mars launch on the books.