SpaceX has been awarded a new contract by NASA to launch the Agency's Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer or IXPE. This research spacecraft will study polarized light from sources, including neutron stars, pulsing windbreaks and supermassive black holes and providing much more imaging than existing space-based observation resources.
The mission will help scientists study magnetars (a specific type of neutron star with particularly powerful magnetic fields), black holes and "Pulsar Wind Nebulae", which are nebula found within the remnants of the supernovae.
SpaceX will launch this IXPE mission aboard a flight attendant Falcon 9, and the total cost of the contract is about $ 50.3 million. The launch will take place in April 2021
"SpaceX is honored that NASA continues to put its trust in our proven launch vehicles to deliver key science loads to circuits," said SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell in a statement. "IXPE will act as SpaceX's sixth contractual mission under NASA's LSP, two of which were successfully launched in 2016 and 2018, increasing the Agency's scientific observational capabilities."
This is just one of a number of upcoming launches, SpaceX has been contracted to perform for NASA, including the commercial resupply missions it regularly performs for the international space station.