NASA Awards Launch Services Contract for Groundbreaking Astrophysics Mission
11 July, 2019, 21:28
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. The agreement proved to be SpaceX's most epic progress in producing a spacecraft whose first stage booster can be reused as it turned out cost-cutting as well.
An Artist's Concept of the IXPE Space Telescope. If it's successful, more instruments of this type may be deployed in the future. SpaceX's launches include NASA's commercial resupply missions it frequently performs for the International Space Station. 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. As per the report, it likely won't take the entire payload of the rocket. NASA has yet to announce a new launch date for ICON.
"SpaceX is honored that NASA continues to place its belief in our proven launch automobiles to ship necessary science payloads to orbit", Gwynne Shotwell, president, and chief operating officer of SpaceX stated in a company statement. IXPE will be SpaceX's sixth contracted expedition under NASA's LSP.
NASA selected IXPE in January 2017 as part of its Small Explorers program of astrophysics missions. The last contract which signed between SpaceX and NASA was the Sentinel 6A ocean altimetry mission in November 2020 from California. These nebulae are known to emit X-rays, so IXPE will study them to see how the particles inside the nebulae are accelerated. The spacecraft will help in learning more about some of the most mysterious objects in the universe - black holes and neutron stars, the space agency announced. Pulsers are the dense collapsed remains which are left behind after the explosion of the stars.
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.