The Contract To Launch The NASA Satellite To Survey The Earth Goes To SpaceX
NASA plans to conduct a survey of the Earth via satellite. The NASA then chooses on the company that would aid it to make the study happen. As the bidding ended, SpaceX won and be able to launch the satellite.
SpaceX got the contract to launch a satellite from NASA that will survey the surface water of the Earth and capture the ocean measurements in high resolution. The launch is scheduled to set in April 2021 at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The satellite will ride unto one of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets.
NASA said that "The specific launch contract amount was not disclosed. It is considered competition and procurement-sensitive information."
For NASA to launch the Surface Water and Ocean Topography mission, the total cost would be $122 million. That already includes the launch services and spacecraft processing. It also includes the additional support beyond the SpaceX service, according to LA Times.
SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell mentioned in the statement that, " The company was excited to carry this critical science payload into orbit. We appreciate NASA's partnership and confidence in SpaceX as a launch provider."
This new mission is additional to the list of NASA's contract with SpaceX. Back in 2014, SpaceX was given a $3.1 billion contract with NASA to establish a crew capsule to carry astronauts going to the International Space Station.
However, SpaceX has not yet launched any of the rockets since September. The Falcon 9 rocket together with the communication satellite exploded on the launch pad in Florida. The investigation of the explosion is still ongoing up to date.
Elon Musk, the chief executive of SpaceX, mentioned that the company would resume the launching in December. In the preparation for the launching, SpaceX has already shipped one Falcon 9 rocket to the Vandenberg launch site. Meanwhile, another one undergoes testing at the McGregir test center in Texas that is still owned by the company, according to NASA Space Flight.