IXPE is created to measure polarized X-rays from black holes, neutron stars and other cosmic objects. 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.
The mission critical design review (M-CDR) of NASA's Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) space-based astrophysics observatory was recently completed at Ball Aerospace's Boulder, Colorado, facility.
NASA and SpaceX's new mission is expected to launch sometime in April 2021 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.More news: Call of Duty Black Ops 4: Operation Apocalypse Z Revealed
It's unlikely that IXPE will make use of the full payload performance of the Falcon 9.
NASA hopes that the two-year IXPE mission will help address one of the goals of its Science Directorate "to probe the origin and destiny of our universe, including the nature of black holes, dark energy, dark matter, and gravity".
"IXPE is an excellent example of an integrated team comprising government, industry and academia focused on a common objective to deliver exciting and important science - the kind of work Ball loves to do", said Dr. Makenzie Lystrup, vice president and general manager, Civil Space, Ball Aerospace.More news: Prince Harry's pledge to protect son Archie
"SpaceX is honored that NASA continues to place its trust in our proven launch vehicles to deliver important science payloads to orbit", said Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX's president and chief operating officer. "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".
To begin with, the Falcon 9 rocket will fly the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) into a quite unusual 335-mile-high (540-kilometer) equatorial orbit. The last contract which signed between SpaceX and NASA was the Sentinel 6A ocean altimetry mission in November 2020 from California. Back in 2014, NASA's Astrophysics Explorers Program requested proposals for new space missions.
Now, NASA and the leading commercial space company have shaken hands on another deal.More news: Ex-Liverpool star Daniel Sturridge 'reunited with stolen dog'