NASA’s Psyche spacecraft has launched toward a metal-rich asteroid of the same name. The probe took off from the Cape Canaveral spaceport in the US state of Florida on Friday on board a “Falcon Heavy” rocket from Elon Musk’s private space company SpaceX. The start had previously been postponed by a day due to bad weather.

The probe, which is about the size of a tennis court with its solar sails spread out, was originally scheduled to launch in 2022. But that didn’t work because of computer problems. “Psyche” has to travel around 3.5 billion kilometers to reach the asteroid, which is why the probe cannot get there until 2029 at the earliest.

The potato-shaped asteroid “Psyche” orbits the Sun between Mars and Jupiter. It has a surface area of ​​165,800 square kilometers, which is almost half the size of Germany. According to initial findings, “Psyche” contains a lot of metals. The probe will explore its composition, giving scientists a better insight into the formation of asteroids, planets and our solar system.

NASA is currently conducting a lot of research on asteroids: With the “Dart” mission, the US space agency had a probe impact on an asteroid last year – and thus changed its orbit. The “Osiris-Rex” mission sent a probe to the asteroid Bennu, which dropped a sample of debris onto Earth a few weeks ago. According to initial studies, this contains traces of water and carbon. The probe is now on its way to the next asteroid – Apophis.