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. Now after years of early planning, NASA finally awarded SpaceX a contract to launch the black hole spacecraft. IXPE will be the lightest payload to ever launch on a Falcon 9, weighing in at only 710 lbs (320 Kg). NASA signed a contract with SpaceX worth $50.3 million and it was announced on Monday as NASA conveyed in the press release, "the launch service and other mission-related costs".
"SpaceX is honored that NASA continues to place its trust in our proven launch vehicles to deliver important science payloads to orbit", - SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell said.
SpaceX has received a contract to help NASA launch an observatory created to help scientists discover astronomical details in space. Back in 2014, NASA's Astrophysics Explorers Program requested proposals for new space missions. The engineers of IXPE mission assumed that the aircraft will be launched on Northrop Grumman's air-dropped Pegasus XL rocket. The total cost of the mission, including launch and operations, is $188 million. 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. 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. The plan is to launch four satellites named the Polarimeter to Unify the Corona and Heliosphere, or PUNCH. The agency previously said that the DART launch would be a dedicated mission. ASI which is an Italian Space Agency is going to provide the X-ray detectors for IXPE mission. They were unveiled by astronomers in a landmark discovery of the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Messier 87 galaxy, in the Virgo galaxy cluster.
IXPE measures polarized X-rays from objects, such as black holes and neutron stars to better understand these types of cosmic phenomena and extreme environments.