Liftoff of NASA’s Psyche Spacecraft Achieved with 5 Million Pounds of Propulsive Force

by Henrik Andersen
9 comments
NASA's Psyche Launch

The Psyche spacecraft from NASA, in partnership with the DSOC technology experiment, has successfully been launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This launch employed SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket, constructed of three Falcon 9 boosters, and generating over 5 million pounds of thrust through its 27 Merlin engines. Credit is given to NASA TV for coverage.

Liftoff was confirmed as the NASA’s Psyche spacecraft and the DSOC (Deep Space Optical Communications) technology demonstration were propelled from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 10:19 a.m. EDT.

The propulsion for the launch was generated by the Falcon Heavy’s 27 Merlin engines, collectively producing more than 5 million pounds of thrust. This force was sufficient to propel the launch vehicle away from its terrestrial base at the Florida spaceport. The first stage of Falcon Heavy is composed of three Falcon 9 boosters connected in tandem—two side boosters and a central one. Positioned on top of the central booster is a second stage that carries the Psyche spacecraft.

Approximately eight minutes after liftoff, SpaceX intends to land the side boosters at Landing Zones 1 and 2, located at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station near the Kennedy Space Center.

Upcoming in the mission, the rocket will attain Max Q, denoting the moment of maximum mechanical stress on the launch vehicle. This will be followed a minute later by the cessation of booster engine operations.

10:22 a.m. – Peak Mechanical Stress Attained, Booster Engines Cease Operations

The Falcon Heavy successfully navigated the point of maximum mechanical stress, referred to as Max Q, and then proceeded to the booster engine cutoff (BECO) stage. At this juncture, the boosters ceased their propulsion activities and separated from the central core to initiate their return trajectory to Landing Zones 1 and 2 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The subsequent phase will see the detachment of the central booster from the second stage, which carries the Psyche spacecraft.

10:25 a.m. – Stage One and Stage Two Separation, Initiation of Second Stage Engine

Moments ago, the first and second stages of the Falcon Heavy’s central core disengaged, initiating the second stage engine.

10:28 a.m. – Side Boosters Touch Down Successfully

The Falcon Heavy’s side boosters have safely landed at Landing Zones 1 and 2 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, in proximity to the Kennedy Space Center.

10:29 a.m. – Completion of Initial Second Stage Engine Cutoff

The first engine cutoff for the second stage (SECO-1) has been completed. The engine is scheduled to reignite for its second burn (SES-2) approximately 44 minutes later. This second burn (SECO-2) will provide the Psyche spacecraft with the extra thrust required to break free from Earth’s gravitational pull. Subsequent to this, the Psyche spacecraft will separate from the second stage and will proceed on its approximately six-year voyage to the asteroid Psyche.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about NASA’s Psyche Launch

What spacecraft was launched and from where?

NASA’s Psyche spacecraft was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

What rocket was used for this launch?

The launch was conducted using SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket.

What technology demonstration accompanied the Psyche spacecraft?

The launch also included NASA’s DSOC (Deep Space Optical Communications) technology demonstration.

What was the total thrust generated during the launch?

The total thrust generated during the launch was over 5 million pounds, courtesy of the Falcon Heavy’s 27 Merlin engines.

What are Landing Zones 1 and 2?

Landing Zones 1 and 2 are located at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, near the Kennedy Space Center. They are the designated areas where the Falcon Heavy’s side boosters are intended to land post-launch.

What is Max Q?

Max Q refers to the moment of maximum mechanical stress on the launch vehicle. It is a critical phase in the rocket’s ascent.

What is the significance of booster engine cutoff (BECO)?

At the BECO stage, the rocket’s boosters cease firing and separate from the central core to begin their descent back to Earth.

What happens during the second stage engine cutoff (SECO)?

During the first second stage engine cutoff (SECO-1), the second stage engine ceases its thrust. It is planned to reignite approximately 44 minutes later for a second burn (SES-2), which will provide the additional thrust needed for the Psyche spacecraft to escape Earth’s gravity.

What is the ultimate goal of the Psyche spacecraft?

The Psyche spacecraft aims to journey to the asteroid Psyche. The trip is estimated to take roughly six years.

Who provided the coverage for this launch event?

The coverage for this launch event was credited to NASA TV.

More about NASA’s Psyche Launch

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9 comments

SpaceFanatic99 October 13, 2023 - 4:09 pm

so the Psyche spacecraft is goin to an asteroid? what are they hoping to find there anyway?

Reply
SkepticalSally October 13, 2023 - 7:13 pm

6 years to reach the asteroid? thats a long time. Hope it’s worth it

Reply
RocketLover October 13, 2023 - 9:59 pm

Landing zones at Cape Canaveral? I was there once. Amazing place for space geeks like me 🙂

Reply
PollySci October 13, 2023 - 11:11 pm

interesting to see NASA and SpaceX working together. Public and private sectors collaborating for the win.

Reply
CuriousMind October 14, 2023 - 5:19 am

DSOC tech demo along with the launch? Two birds with one stone, I like it!

Reply
TechGuru October 14, 2023 - 12:00 pm

Second stage engine cutoff and then reignition, huh? Complex stuff but SpaceX seems to know what theyre doin.

Reply
JohnDoe42 October 14, 2023 - 12:35 pm

Wow, 5 million pounds of thrust? That’s insane! Falcon Heavy is truly a beast.

Reply
EcoWarrior October 14, 2023 - 3:28 pm

27 Merlin engines, really? wondering about the carbon footprint here…

Reply
Stargazer October 14, 2023 - 3:40 pm

Max Q sounds scary. glad they made it past that point safely.

Reply

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