NASA contracts SpaceX to launch craft for black hole & neutron star research

Space Exploration

NASA contracts SpaceX to launch craft for black hole & neutron star research

Priya Wadhwa
Space Exploration
Published:
NASA contracts SpaceX to launch craft for black hole & neutron star research
Private sector to the rescue?

NASA has contracted Elon Musks's SpaceX to launch a craft for research into neutron stars, black holes and more.

“SpaceX is honored that NASA continues to place its trust in our proven launch vehicles to deliver important science payloads to orbit. IXPE will serve as SpaceX’s sixth contracted mission under NASA’s LSP, two of which were successfully launched in 2016 and 2018, increasing the agency’s scientific observational capabilities.”
Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO of SpaceX

SpaceX's Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer, or IXPE, is a research spacecraft that will essentially study the polarised light from sources including neutron stars, pulsar wind nebulae and supermassive black holes. This research will provide NASA will much better and more imaging than is currently possible with the existing space-based observation resources.

According to Techcrunch, SpaceX will launch its IXPE on the "flight-proven Falcon 9" in April 2021 from LC-39A at Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. The expected total cost of this venture will be around $50.3 million.