LOS ANGELES, July 23 – Elon Musk’s non-public rocket firm SpaceX was awarded a $178 million launch companies contract for NASA’s first mission specializing in Jupiter’s icy moon Europa and whether or not it could host situations appropriate for all times, the area company stated on Friday.
The Europa Clipper mission is due for blastoff in October 2024 on a Falcon Heavy rocket owned by Musk’s firm, Area Exploration Applied sciences Corp, from NASA’s Kennedy Area Heart in Florida, NASA stated in an announcement posted on-line.
The contract marked NASA’s newest vote of confidence within the Hawthorne, California-based firm, which has carried a number of cargo payloads and astronauts to the Worldwide Area Station for NASA lately.
In April, SpaceX was awarded a $2.9 billion contract to construct the lunar lander spacecraft for the deliberate Artemis program that may carry NASA astronauts again to the moon for the primary time since 1972.
However that contract was suspended after two rival area firms, Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and protection contractor Dynetics Inc, protested towards the SpaceX choice.
The corporate’s partly reusable 23-story Falcon Heavy, at present essentially the most highly effective operational area launch car on this planet, flew its first business payload into orbit in 2019.
NASA didn’t say what different firms might have bid on the Europa Clipper launch contract.
The probe is to conduct an in depth survey of the ice-covered Jovian satellite tv for pc, which is a bit smaller than Earth’s moon and is a number one candidate within the seek for life elsewhere within the photo voltaic system.
A bend in Europa’s magnetic area noticed by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft in 1997 appeared to have been attributable to a geyser gushing by way of the moon’s frozen crust from an unlimited subsurface ocean, researchers concluded in 2018. These findings supported different proof of Europa plumes.
Among the many Clipper mission’s goals are to provide high-resolution photographs of Europa’s floor, decide its composition, search for indicators of geologic exercise, measure the thickness of its icy shell and decide the depth and salinity of its ocean, NASA stated.