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

Artist's depiction of NASA's Imaging X Ray Polarimetry Explorer spacecraft. Image Credit NASA

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

This spacecraft should help in the study of polarized light, which comes from neutron stars and pulsar wind nebulae, as well to watch supermassive black holes better.

As per sources, this is just one of the upcoming launches that have been contracted with SpaceX by NASA. That supply 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 would seek certification from NASA's Launch Services Program within the near future.

An Artist's Concept of the IXPE Space Telescope. At the center of these nebulae is a pulsar, which generates pulsar winds of charged particles which are thrown out from the pulsar and into the nebula.

The total cost for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to launch IXPE is approximately $50.3 million, which includes the launch service and other mission-related costs, the U.S. space agency said on Tuesday.

The test is scheduled in mid-2021 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and as per a spokesperson from NASA, the contract is worth $69 million which also includes the production of a new first stage booster by SpaceX.

NASA's Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) launching mission is a $50.3 million venture which will consist of three space telescopes powerful enough to analyze the polarization of cosmic X-rays. Now after years of early planning, NASA finally awarded SpaceX a contract to launch the black hole spacecraft. If it's successful, more instruments of this type may be deployed in the future. Back in 2014, NASA's Astrophysics Explorers Program requested proposals for new space missions. 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.

IXPE is a part of NASA's Small explorer class of missions.

IXPE is created to measure polarized X-rays from black holes, neutron stars and other cosmic objects.



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