Elon Musk’s SpaceX has won a NASA contract. The space agency said that it has selected SpaceX for an astrophysics mission. SpaceX will provide launch services for the mission. The mission is called SPHEREx. It will involve surveying the sky in the near-infrared light. The mission will last for two years. Currently, it is targeted to launch in June 2024. The mission will be launched on a Falcon 9 rocket. NASA said that the near-infrared light will serve as a powerful tool to help scientists find answers to cosmic questions and understand the universe. The near-infrared light is not visible to humans. NASA said that the mission will also search for organic molecules and water.
NASA said that astronomers will get a chance to utilize the mission to gather data about galaxies and stars. The spacecraft will perform a full-sky survey. It will help scientists understand how the universe works. NASA feels that the data collected during the mission will be phenomenal. According to NASA’s estimate, the total cost to launch the mission is roughly USD 98.8 million. This included the launch service for which NASA has signed a contract with SpaceX. The mission was originally scheduled for a launch in 2023. But the space agency had to delay it due to the pandemic.
The American space agency had in January selected four small-scale astrophysics missions. The objective is to study the secrets and unlock the mysteries of the universe. The four missions are Aspera, Pandora, StarBurst, and PUEO. NASA will through small satellites and scientific balloons explore the cosmos. The experiments will fill the gaps in the understanding of the universe. Aspera will study the evolution of the galaxy. Aspera will examine hot gas in the space. As per the plan, Pandora will study 20 stars and their 39 exoplanets. It will use infrared light to conduct the study. StarBurst will detect high-energy gamma rays in space. PUEO will be a balloon mission. It will detect signals from ultra-high energy neutrinos. The remaining three will be small satellites.