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.
NASA has awarded a new contract to SpaceX that involves visiting and closely studying supermassive black holes.
NASA provided a launch contract to SpaceX July 8 for the launch of a small astrophysics mission as the corporate provided a Falcon 9 at a lower price than a much smaller rocket.
It's unlikely that IXPE will make use of the full payload performance of the Falcon 9. NASA estimated launch costs for DART at $69 million. Of the fourteen proposals that were submitted, only three have turned into concepts, with the IXPE mission selected with the "best science potential" which could see development plans in the future.
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SpaceX's President and Chief Operating Officer, Gwynne Shotwell, made the following statement after the announcement of the contract award. Two missions, Jason-3 and TESS have already taken to the skies atop one of SpaceX's offerings under the agency's Launch Services Program (LSP). The IXPE will fly at a 0 degree inclination, which will minimize its exposure to radiation in the South Atlantic Anomaly (where the Van Allen radiation belt is closest to the Earth). The total cost of the mission, including launch and operations, is $188 million. NASA has yet to announce a new launch date for ICON.
The IXPE mission was chosen in 2017 as one of NASA's minor astrophysics projects. The agency previously said that the DART launch would be a dedicated mission.
An Artist's Concept of the IXPE Space Telescope. The main motive of IXPE is to measure the polarization of high energy cosmic X-rays.
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. It will collect the data for study and will be allotted to the astronomers so that they can understand the behavior of the following data provided by IXPE.