The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has selected Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) to provide launch services for its SPHEREx mission.
The SPHEREx or the Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization, and Ices Explorer mission was launched to help scientists gather data to understand the history of the universe among other cosmic questions.
NASA in a press release said, “SPHEREx is a planned two-year astrophysics mission to survey the sky in the near-infrared light, which, though not visible to the human eye, serves as a powerful tool for answering cosmic questions involving the birth of the universe, and the subsequent development of galaxies.”
The mission will also include the search for essentials for the existence of life, i.e. water and organic molecules in regions where stars are born from gas and dust, known as stellar nurseries along with disks around stars where new planets could be forming.
“Astronomers will use the mission to gather data on more than 300 million galaxies, as well as more than 100 million stars in our own Milky Way galaxy,” NASA said.
As per the release, the total cost for NASA to launch SPHEREx is approximately $98.8 million which includes the cost for launch service and other mission-related costs.
NASA is currently targeting June 2024 for the SPHEREx mission. The mission will be launched aboard Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex-4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
NASA’s Launch Services Program at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida will manage the SpaceX launch service.