NASA, SpaceX Sign $80.4 Million Contract For Earth Science Mission


NASA and SpaceX have signed a new contract and this involves the launch of an Earth science mission. SpaceX has been picked out to launch the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) spacecraft. The mission would take off on the Falcon 9 Cape Canaveral, Florida in December 2022.

SpaceX NASA Collab For Earth Science Mission


SpaceX NASA Sign New Contract

NASA says that the new contract with SpaceX is valued at $80.4 million and covers the launch and other related services. Going into the details, the 1,700kg PACE spacecraft will operate in a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 676.5 kilometers.

The spacecraft will carry the Ocean Color Imager, which operates from ultraviolet to shortwave infrared that will allow the study and observation of phytoplankton in the ocean. Also, the mission will carry two polarimeters to study the properties of clouds, aerosols and the ocean. The mission has a cost cap of $805 million.

SpaceX separately said that the Earth science mission launch will take off on a 'flight-proven' Falcon 9, which has already launched a couple of missions. "SpaceX is honored to continue supporting NASA's critical scientific observational missions by launching PACE, which will help humanity better understand, protect and preserve our planet," Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX, in a company statement.

SpaceX has already launched two NASA science missions to date, which include the Jason-3 oceanography satellite and the TESS astronomy spacecraft. On the whole, the private space agency now has five such missions queued up including the DART asteroid intercept mission, valued for $69 million and the IXPE X-ray astronomy mission with $50.3 million budget.

New Budget

NASA said that the "PACE mission represents the nation's next great investment in understanding and protecting our home planet." However, the mission was about to get canceled, again. As a measure to save costs for other missions, NASA's previous three budget proposals for the years 2018, 2019, and 2020 didn't include the PACE mission.


But incidentally, Congress restored the funding for the mission, including $131 million for the fiscal year of 2020.

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