SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket poised to launch Psyche metal asteroid mission (photos)

a white rocket stands on the launch pad next to its black launch tower, with a gray sky in the background.
A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket with NASA's Psyche spacecraft onboard is seen at Launch Complex 39A on Oct. 11, 2023, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  (Image credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

Update: Psyche launched at 10:19 a.m. EDT on Oct. 13. Read our wrap story here.

SpaceX's powerful Falcon Heavy rocket is ready to launch its first-ever NASA mission tomorrow (Oct. 13).

The Falcon Heavy rolled out to Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Tuesday (Oct. 10) ahead of an originally planned Thursday (Oct. 12) liftoff of NASA's Psyche asteroid mission. But NASA and SpaceX delayed the launch by a day to wait out some bad weather brewing on the Space Coast.

If all goes according to plan, Psyche will now launch tomorrow at 10:19 a.m. EDT (1419 GMT). You can watch the action live here at, courtesy of NASA and SpaceX

Related: NASA's Psyche asteroid probe on track for October launch after 1-year delay

Nighttime view of Psyche's Falcon Heavy rocket on Pad 39A ahead of its planned Oct. 13 liftoff. (Image credit: SpaceX)

The Falcon Heavy consists of three strapped-together first stages of SpaceX's workhorse Falcon 9 rocket. The central booster is topped with an upper stage and the payload.

The Heavy — the second-most powerful rocket flying today, after NASA's Space Launch System — has flown seven times to date, most recently in July of this year. None of those missions were for NASA, however.

The two side boosters that will help launch Psyche tomorrow are spaceflight veterans, as their sooty appearance suggests: They have participated in three of seven Falcon Heavy launches to date, according to a SpaceX mission description. Both side boosters are expected come back once again if all goes smoothly, touching down in Florida shortly after liftoff.

The central booster, on the other hand, will be making its first and only flight tomorrow. It's slated to fall into the Atlantic Ocean after it finishes powering Psyche skyward.

NASA'S Psyche probe sits inside its payload fairing atop a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket at Kennedy Space Center's Pad 39A on Oct. 11, 2023. (Image credit: Josh Dinner)

The Psyche mission will study the bizarre metallic asteroid of the same name up close, providing key insights about the solar system's early days and the planet-formation process. (Astronomers think Psyche may be the exposed core of an ancient protoplanet.)

The 173-mile-wide (280 kilometers) Psyche lies in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The Psyche probe is scheduled to reach the space rock in 2029, then scrutinize it from orbit for at least 26 months.

Current forecasts call for a 50% chance of good enough weather to allow a launch tomorrow. The Psyche mission has daily launch opportunities through Oct. 25.

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.