NASA and SpaceX Signed A New Contract for More than $50 Million

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

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.

NASA has awarded a new contract to SpaceX that involves visiting and closely studying supermassive black holes. The observatory will be launched aboard a Falcon 9 from Launch Complex 39A in Florida, and liftoff is planned for April 2021. Now after years of early planning, NASA finally awarded SpaceX a contract to launch the black hole spacecraft.

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.

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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 USA space agency said on Tuesday. 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.

The spacecraft was supposed to launch in 2017 but due to some series of issues, the mission didn't continue. The engineers of IXPE mission assumed that the aircraft will be launched on Northrop Grumman's air-dropped Pegasus XL rocket. The private organizations have been granted a total of six mission contracts till date by NASA's Launch Services Program. - SpaceX keeps racking up contractual wins. The agency previously said that the DART launch would be a dedicated mission.

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. ASI which is an Italian Space Agency is going to provide the X-ray detectors for IXPE mission. 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.

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