Elon Musk's SpaceX wins NASA contract for mission to study black hole

11 Juillet, 2019, 03:30 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon spacecraft onboard launches from pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center

According to the space agency, the Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) is a space observatory that's created to collect polarized (restricted to a single plane) X-ray light data from extreme phenomena such as black holes and neutron stars-incredibly dense, compact objects that are left behind when massive stars explode as supernovae. The launch will cost around $50.3 million taking place on April 2021.

NASA has selected Elon Musk's SpaceX to provide launch services for the agencys Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission, which will help astronomers better understand cosmic phenomena such as black holes and neutron stars. You'd be surprised to find out it's actually less than the previous contract the space agency awarded SpaceX back in April, for the launch of the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission. Company spokesperson Tracy Young stated July eight that the Falcon 9 launching IXPE would have a reused first stage.

"IXPE is an excellent example of an integrated team comprising government, industry and academia focused on a common objective to deliver exciting and important science - the kind of work Ball loves to do", said Dr. Makenzie Lystrup, vice president and general manager, Civil Space, Ball Aerospace.

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Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell said in a statement that IXPE is SpaceX's sixth contracted mission with NASA's Launch Service Program, which launches unmanned rockets to deliver spacecraft that observe the Earth and other planets. This trend appears to indicate the agency's growing trust in SpaceX with this latest award going so far as to allow the mission to be launched aboard a flight-proven Falon 9. That source of business for the venerable rocket, though, could be in jeopardy with NASA's decision to launch IXPE on the Falcon 9, as well as the emergence of low-priced small launch vehicles that could seek certification from NASA's Launch Services Program in the near future. The company has also been awarded the contracts for the SWOT, Sentinel-6A, and DART missions. Atwell has worked to cover these fields for more than a decade.

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.

Now, NASA and the leading commercial space company have shaken hands on another deal.

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