NASA picks Elon Musk’s SpaceX for mission to study history of the universe

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on February 05, 2021

Astronomers to collect data on 300 million galaxies

The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced the selection of 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 is meant to help scientists gather data to help them understand the history of the universe among other cosmic questions.

“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,” NASA said in a press release.

The mission will also include 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.

The total cost for NASA to launch SPHEREx is approximately $98.8 million including the launch service and other mission related costs, as per the release.

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.

Published on February 05, 2021

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