During the summer, the space station made an exciting announcement about its upcoming mission to the asteroid 16 Psyche, estimated to hold an astonishing $10,000,000,000,000,000,000 worth of precious metals.
NASA’s press release in July stated that they were preparing a spacecraft to travel 2.5 billion miles to study this metal-rich asteroid, not just for mining purposes, but to gain insights into planetary cores and planetary formation.
Initially planned for launch last year, the mission faced delays due to software issues. Finally, on October 13, the SpaceX Falcon Heavy from Space Launch Complex 39A embarked on its journey. The asteroid is situated in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and the spacecraft will travel 2.2 billion miles, with an expected arrival at its destination in July 2029.
In May 2026, the spacecraft will receive a velocity boost from Mars. Out of the nine known metal-rich asteroids in our solar system, NASA chose 16 Psyche for its size and presumed lack of alteration, making it a prime target for study.
This colossal asteroid measures 173 miles (280 km) in diameter, 144 miles (232 km) in length, and has a surface area of 64,000 square miles (165,800 square km). It is estimated that metal comprises 30 to 60 percent of its overall volume, based on radar observations and measurements of its thermal properties, as explained on NASA’s website.