NASA Selects SpaceX to Launch SpaceX to Study Interstellar Space – Spaceflight Now

This illustration reveals interstellar mapping and acceleration investigations that indicate the interaction of solar wind with other wiring winds. Sincerely: NASA

NASA gave SpaceX $ 109 million to launch the Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe, a NOAA Space Meteorological Observatory, a robotic scout to map the water on the Moon, and two other Reladong payloads on a single Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in 2024 Has given the contract of

The primary passenger of the rideshare mission is IMAP, which examines posts at the L1 Lagrange point about one million miles (1.5 million kilometers) from Earth in the direction of the Sun. Instruments of IMAP will study the boundary between the heliosphere – where the Sun’s influence reigns – and the area between the stars is known as interstellar space.

NASA considered SpaceX and United Launch Alliance launchers for IMAP. The agency announced on Friday that a Falcon 9 rocket would propel the IMAP spacecraft toward its distant operating orbit at L1, a gravitational equilibrium point between Earth and the Sun.

According to NASA, the launch of IMAP from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is scheduled for October 2024. The space agency said the contract with SpaceX is valued at $ 109.4 million, including “launch service and other mission-related costs”.

Equipped with 10 devices, IMAP will map the outer reaches of the heliosphere, where particles emitted from the solar wind move into the air from other stars. Located about 10 billion miles from the Sun, the border protects the Earth and the rest of the planets from harmful cosmic rays.

Some instruments of IMAP will sample neutral particles from the interstellar space that make it into the heliosphere with interstellar dust particles. According to the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, which is developing missions and buildings, in addition to investigating collisions between materials from the sun’s winds and other stars, IMAP will also study the basic processes that particles in the heliosphere And even beyond. Spacecraft for NASA.

File photo of Falcon 9 launch. Sincerely: SpaceX

The IMAP mission costs $ 564 million excluding the cost of launch services. The launch contract NASA signed with SpaceX brought the total cost of the mission to NASA at about $ 700 million.

Although IMAP is the major payload at the Falcon 9 launch in October 2024, the spacecraft will not fill the rocket’s lift capacity.

A satellite being developed by NOAA to monitor space weather will take IMAP into space. Like IMAP, NOAA’s Space Weather Follow On-Lagrange 1, or SWFO-L1, will move toward an observation post about one million miles from Earth around the mission L1 lagrange point.

The SWFO-L1 mission will monitor solar wind and detect solar flares that can threaten communications to the Earth, satellite navigation, spacecraft operations, and electrical grid disruptions. The new space weather watchdog, created by Ball Aerospace, will replace observations currently managed by NOAA’s DSCOVR mission and SOHO spacecraft jointly managed by NASA and the European Space Agency.

NASA’s Lunar Trailblazer spacecraft will also be launched along with IMA.

Built by Lockheed Martin, the Lunar Trailblazer is a small spacecraft that will orbit around the Moon. It will mark water on the Sun’s side of the Moon, measure how the Moon’s water changes over time, and study water ice locked in cold traps inside craters permanently shaded at the Moon’s poles.

The solar system’s teardrop-shaped heliospheres prevent many cosmic rays and interstellar particles from reaching Earth. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center / Conceptual Image Lab

NASA also plans to select two smaller heliophysics missions to launch with IMAP on the Falcon 9 rocket. The agency is running two separate competitions to take on the small heliophysics mission that will launch with IMAP.

In a petition, NASA selected candidates named SIHLA and GLIDE. The SIHLA mission will collect IMAP supplementary data at the boundary between the heliosphere and interstellar space, while GLIDE will help scientists study how the top layer of the Earth’s atmosphere – the response to changes in air activity or the atmosphere below – is.

NASA Mission Concepts known as SETH and Solar Cruiser is considering to take other slots at the Falcon 9 launch with IMAP.

SETH will detect neutral atoms, waves, and other particles from the sun, and demonstrate laser communication technology that can be used in deep space on future CubeSats and small satellites. The solar cruiser will test a giant solar cell that will use the sun’s energy as a means of propulsion, and according to NASA will carry a coronograph to measure the structure of the sun’s magnetic field and the velocity of large-scale solar explosions.

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Follow Stephen Clarke on Twitter: @ StephenClark1.

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