Elon Musk's SpaceX wins NASA contract for mission to study black hole

SpaceX gets $50 million NASA contract to launch space telescopes from Kennedy Space Center

NASA stated that it selected SpaceX to launch the Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission on a Falcon 9 in April 2021 from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A. SpaceX's launches include NASA's commercial resupply missions it frequently performs for the International Space Station.

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.

This mission is just one of several upcoming launches SpaceX has agreed to carry out for NASA. If it's successful, more instruments of this type may be deployed in the future. The launch won't take place for another couple of years, but when it finally gets underway it'll be a SpaceX Falcon 9 that makes the magic happen.

"SpaceX is honoured that NASA continues to place its trust in our proven launch vehicles to deliver important science payloads to orbit", said SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell in a statement. The engineers of IXPE mission assumed that the aircraft will be launched on Northrop Grumman's air-dropped Pegasus XL rocket. The IXPE rocket is created to fly at a distance of 540 kilometers to the equatorial orbit at an inclination of 0 degrees. The only mission which comes in the name of Northrop Grumman's Pegasus is the launch of NASA's Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, spacecraft.


IXPE is a part of NASA's Small explorer class of missions. The total cost of the mission, including launch and operations, is $188 million.

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.

For SpaceX, the IXPE mission will serve as a clear indication of the company's capabilities in delivering vital payloads to space for scientific advancement. 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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