SpaceX will provide launch services under a potential $109.4M contract for a NASA-funded mission that seeks to further study the heliosphere’s boundary that produces a magnetic barrier protecting the solar system.
NASA said Saturday it intends for the company's full-thrust Falcon 9 rocket to launch the Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe spacecraft at Cape Canaveral, Florida, in October 2024.
The mission will also include a pair of additional heliophysics missions, the Lunar Trailblazer small satellite and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Follow On-Lagrange 1 spacecraft as secondary payloads.
Lunar Trailblazer is intended to study the water on the moon's surface and SWFO-L1 aims to provide data on solar wind to support space weather forecasting work at NOAA.
A team comprised of Princeton University and Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory will lead the IMAP mission as part of NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Probes program.
NASA noted that researchers will examine neutral particles that pass through the barrier and study how particles become faster in space.
The Kennedy Space Center will manage contracting activities with SpaceX.