Saturday, 20 July, 2019


NASA, SpaceX To Send Spacecraft To Supermassive Black Holes In 2021

SpaceX gets $50 million NASA contract to launch space telescopes from Kennedy Space Center NASA Awards Launch Services Contract for Groundbreaking Astrophysics Mission
Kristine Garrett | 11 July, 2019, 03:29

CAPE CANAVERAL-NASA has awarded SpaceX a $50 million contract to launch an X-ray observatory created to measure polarized light from black holes, neutron stars and other high-energy astrophysical objects.

For SpaceX, the IXPE mission will serve as a clear indication of the company's capabilities in delivering vital payloads to space for scientific advancement. 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.

It's unlikely that IXPE will make use of the full payload performance of the Falcon 9.

The total launch cost for the mission has been listed at $50.3 million.

"SpaceX is honored that NASA continues to place its trust in our proven launch vehicles to deliver important science payloads to orbit", said SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell in a statement to TechCrunch.

NASA has awarded a new contract to SpaceX that involves visiting and closely studying supermassive black holes. The agency previously said that the DART launch would be a dedicated mission. The Falcon 9 can place up to 22,800 kilograms into low Earth orbit, although that performance will be reduced somewhat to achieve the zero-degree inclination of IXPE's orbit, at an altitude of 540 kilometers.

NASA selected IXPE in January 2017 as part of its Small Explorers program of astrophysics missions. After he attended and watched the launch of NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission it gave him what is known in the space community as "rocket fever". The engineers of IXPE mission assumed that the aircraft will be launched on Northrop Grumman's air-dropped Pegasus XL rocket. NASA awarded a contract to launch a black hole spacecraft to SpaceX. The main motive of IXPE is to measure the polarization of high energy cosmic X-rays. Astronomers are expecting a lot from the IXPE mission as they are hoping that it will help them in revealing the spin of black holes and help them in the new discoveries about the extreme magnetic fields around a special type of neutron star called magnetars.

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