SpaceX bags contract to launch IXPE for astrophysics mission

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon spacecraft onboard launches from pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon spacecraft onboard launches from pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center

NASA has planned to reuse the Falcon 9's first stage booster in the launch of the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer mission from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in April 2021.

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.

Due to this mission, scientists will finally be able to study magnetars (a specific type of neutron stars with the most powerful magnetic fields) better. NASA said the total cost to the agency for the launch is $50.3 million, which includes the launch itself and other "mission-related" costs.

SpaceX and NASA are like two peas in a pod as of late, with the space program leaning heavily on SpaceX for everything from satellite launches to the eventual launch of crewed missions using the SpaceX Crew Dragon. One of the main assignments for the IXPE mission is the study of supermassive black holes, NASA said in a press release.

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NASA has already awarded several launch contracts to SpaceX. The most recent to be announced was for a NASA mission, one that serves to demonstrate that the company's 74 Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy flights - has not gone unnoticed. These expeditions grew the space agency's scientific observational capacities, Shotwell added.

NASA selected IXPE in January 2017 as part of its Small Explorers program of astrophysics missions. He said in the report that the agency can not capture images of what is happening near objects. Aside from these, the new mission will also focus on observing neutron stars and pulsar wind nebulae. However, observing the polarization of X-rays generated from their surrounding environments unveils the physics of these mysterious objects. NASA estimated launch prices for DART at $69 million.

That cost is significantly less than a NASA contract awarded to SpaceX April 11 for the launch of the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission in June 2021 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Patrick Attwell is a native of Houston, Texas but he now resides in Austin, Texas where he studies accounting at Concordia University Texas. When she doesn't write, she loves to travel.

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