NASA and SpaceX Will Be Working Together For Small Astrophysics Mission


NASA stated that it selected SpaceX to launch the Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission on a Falcon 9 in April 2021 from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A.

That price is significantly less than a NASA contract awarded to SpaceX April 11 for the launch of the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission in June 2021 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The IXPE rocket is built by Ball Aerospace and the spacecraft was created to fir the Pegasus rocket's payload fairing envelope and its weight is going to be around 300 kilograms during the launch.

SpaceX's President and Chief Operating Officer, Gwynne Shotwell, made the following statement after the announcement of the contract award.

The new mission will serve as a groundbreaking move for both NASA and SpaceX since not much is known regarding the nature of this type of black hole.

NASA's Launch Services Program will oversee the launch service.

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SpaceX has received a contract to help NASA launch an observatory created to help scientists discover astronomical details in space.

Small science missions in astrophysics, Earth science and heliophysics had been the primary customers of the Pegasus XL.

The spacecraft was supposed to launch in 2017 but due to some series of issues, the mission didn't continue. The launch is scheduled on the same spacecraft used for the Tandem Reconnection and Cusp Electrodynamics Reconnaissance Satellites, or TRACERS, mission. The agency previously said that the DART launch would be a dedicated mission. The main motive of IXPE is to measure the polarization of high energy cosmic X-rays. They can also form following the collision of two black holes.

"We can not directly image what's going on near objects like black holes and neutron stars, but studying the polarization of X-rays emitted from their surrounding environments reveals the physics of these enigmatic objects", Paul Hertz, director of NASA's astrophysics division, said in a statement at the time, adding that the project "will open a new window on the universe for astronomers to peer through".