NASA’s 2021 Achievements Included Mars Landing, First Flight, Artemis, More

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2021, NASA completed its busiest year of development yet in low-Earth orbit, made history on Mars, continued to make progress on its Artemis plans for the Moon, tested new technologies for a supersonic aircraft, finalized launch preparations for the next-generation space telescope, and much more – all while safely operating during a pandemic and welcoming new leadership under the Biden-Harris Administration.

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Italy Contributed 3 Instruments to NASA-ASI IXPE Mission

NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission is the first satellite dedicated to measuring the polarization of X-rays from a variety of cosmic sources, such as black holes and neutron stars. (Credits: NASA)

ROME (ASI PR) — A lot of Italian science born from the exclusive collaboration between NASA and the Italian Space Agency (ASI) was aboard the IXPE (Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer) satellite, which took off punctually from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 7.00 Italian time on 9 December. A Falcon 9 carrier from the private company SpaceX was used for the launch. The launch was attended by the president of the Italian Space Agency (ASI), Giorgio Saccoccia, and the administrator of NASA, Bill Nelson.

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SpaceX Falcon 9 Launches NASA IXPE Scientific Satellite

Falcon 9 lifts off with NASA’s IXPE satellite on Dec. 9, 2021. (Credit: NASA webcast)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer ( IXPE) early Thursday morning from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The spacecraft will study of the most energetic objects in the universe – the remnants of exploded stars, powerful particle jets spewing from feeding black holes, and more.

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SpaceX to Launch IXPE Spacecraft on Thursday Morning

Falcon 9 with the IXPE satellite aboard. (Credit: SpaceX)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX is targeting Thursday, December 9 for Falcon 9’s launch of NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission to low Earth orbit from historic Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The 90-minute launch window opens at 1:00 a.m. EST (6:00 UTC). A backup opportunity is available on Friday, December 10 with the same 90-minute launch window, should it be needed.

This will be the fifth flight for this Falcon 9’s first stage booster, which previously supported launch of Crew-1, Crew-2, SXM-8, and CRS-23. Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage will land on the Just Read the Instructions droneship, which will be located in the Atlantic Ocean.

You can watch the live launch webcast starting about 15 minutes before liftoff. 

This Week in Launches: Japanese Tourist, New Shepard, NASA Laser Experiment, X-ray Satellite & More

Soyuz MS-20 crew members Yozo Hirano, Alexander Misurkin and Yusaku Maezawa. (Credit: Roscosmos)

Schedule subject to change without notice.

December 7

Launch Vehicle: Atlas 5 (United Launch Alliance)
Payloads: STP-6 and several rideshares
Launch Window: 4:04-6:04 a.m. EST (0904-1104 UTC)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla.
Webcast: www.nasa.gov

The U.S. Space Force mission will launch the STPSat-6 satellite and several secondary payloads. STPSat 6 hosts NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration payload and the Space and Atmospheric Burst Reporting System-3 for the National Nuclear Security Administration.

OUTCOME: Success

December 8

Launch Vehicle: Soyuz-2.1a (Roscosmos)
Payload: Soyuz MS-20
Launch Time: 2:38 a.m. EST (0738 UTC)
Launch Site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
Webcast: www.nasa.gov

Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin will fly Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa and his assistant, Yozo Hirano, to the International Space Station on a 12-day mission.

OUTCOME: Success

Launch Vehicle: Electron (Rocket Lab)
Payloads: BlackSky 14 & 15 Earth observation satellites
Launch Time: 6:45 p.m. EST (2345 UTC)
Launch Site: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand
Webcast: www.rocketlab.com

December 9

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9 (SpaceX)
Payload: Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer
Launch Window: 1:00-2:30 a.m. EST (0600-0730 UTC)
Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Webcast: www.nasa.gov

Launch Vehicle: New Shepard (Blue Origin)
Payload: New Shepard
Launch Time: TBA
Launch Site: Corn Ranch, Texas
Webcast: www.blueorigin.com

Laura Shepard Churchley will fly aboard a suborbital craft named in honor of her late father, NASA astronaut Alan Shepard, who became the first American in space 60 years ago and walked on the moon a decade later. She will be joined by: Good Morning America co-host Michael Strahan; Voyager Space chairman and CEO Dylan Taylor; Lance Bess, principal and founder of Bess Ventures and Advisory; Lance’s son Cameron Bess; and Evan Dick, managing member of Dick Holdings. This will be the 19th launch of the New Shepard system.

UPDATE: Postponed to Saturday, Dec. 11.

December 12

Launch Vehicle: Proton (Roscosmos)
Payloads: Express AMU3 & Express AMU7 communications satellites
Launch Time: 7:09 a.m. EST (1209 UTC)
Launch Site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
Webcast: www.roscosmos.com

Join Our Virtual NASA Social to Experience the Newest X-Ray Astronomy Mission – #IXPE!

NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission is the first satellite dedicated to measuring the polarization of X-rays from a variety of cosmic sources, such as black holes and neutron stars. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Social media users are invited to register to take part in our global virtual NASA Social for the Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission, scheduled to launch Dec. 9, 2021. This will be NASA’s first satellite dedicated to measuring X-ray polarization from many sources in space.

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NASA TV to Air IXPE Prelaunch Activities, Launch

NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission is the first satellite dedicated to measuring the polarization of X-rays from a variety of cosmic sources, such as black holes and neutron stars. (Credits: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch and launch activities for the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission, the first satellite dedicated to measuring the polarization of X-rays from a variety of cosmic sources, such as black holes and neutron stars.

IXPE is scheduled to launch no earlier than 1 a.m. EST Thursday, Dec. 9, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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Upcoming Launches Include Space Tourism Flight

Spaceflight participant Yozo Hiro, Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin and spaceflight participant Yusaku Maezawa. (Credit: Roscosmos)

Dates and times subject to change without notice. And remember: no wagering.

December 1

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payloads: 53 Starlink broadband satellites
Location: Cape Canaveral Space Force Station
Time: 6:20 p.m. EST (2320 GMT)
Webcast: www.spacex.com

December 1/2

Launch Vehicle: Soyuz ST-B/Fregat-MT
Payloads: Galileo 27 & 28 navigation satellites
Location: Guiana Space Center
Time: 7:31 p.m. EST (0031 GMT on Dec. 2)
Webcast: https://www.youtube.com/c/arianespace

December 5

Launch Vehicle: Atlas V
Payloads: U.S. Space Force LDPE-1 space tug; STPSat-6 technology demonstrator with NASA Laser Communications Relay Demonstration payload
Location: Cape Canaveral Space Force Station
Time: 4:04-6:04 a.m. EST (0904-1104 GMT)
Webcast: http://www.ulalaunch.com

December 8

Launch Vehicle: Soyuz-2.1a
Payload: Soyuz MS-20 crewed vehicle
Location: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazahkstan
Time: 2:38 a.m. EST (07:38 GMT)
Webcast: www.roscosmos.ru

Cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin and space tourists Yusaku Maezawa and Yozo Hirano will lift off on a 12-day mission to the International Space Station.

December 9

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer
Location: Kennedy Space Center
Time: 1:00-2:30 a.m. EST (0600-0730 GMT)
Webcast: www.spacex.com

NASA’s New X-ray Mission Will Unlock the Secrets of Extreme Cosmic Objects

The Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer mission is set to launch Dec. 9 on a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In space, IXPE will explore the leftovers of exploded stars, black holes, and more by looking at a special property of light called polarization. (Credits: NASA)

by Rick Smith
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA is gearing up to launch a new set of X-ray eyes on the cosmos. The first space observatory of its kind, the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer, or IXPE, is built to study some of the most energetic objects in the universe – the remnants of exploded stars, powerful particle jets spewing from feeding black holes, and much more.

IXPE is set to launch Dec. 9 on a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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Ball Aerospace Delivers NASA’s X-Ray Observatory to Kennedy Space Center for Launch

IXPE satellite (Credit: Ball Aerospace)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Ball Aerospace PR) — NASA’s Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE), built by Ball Aerospace, safely arrived Friday at Cape Canaveral in Fla. A collaboration between Ball, NASA, and the Italian Space Agency (ASI), IXPE is an astrophysics observatory set to launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in December.

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NASA Science Budget Request Fact Sheet

Europa Clipper in orbit around Europa. (Credit: NASA)

NASA FACT SHEET
FY 2022 Budget Request
Science
($ Millions)

NASA’s Science budget, managed by the Science Mission Directorate, includes five major science areas as well as the James Webb Space Telescope which is funded separately from Astrophysics. These areas include:

  • Earth Science to enhance understanding of Earth systems and to observe the effects of climate change. The Budget invests heavily in climate and applications research, begins formulation of the first four Designated Observable missions, and initiates the Earth System Explorers program (consistent with Decadal Survey recommendations). The Budget also supports the ongoing development of the Earth System Observatory including PACE, CLARREO Pathfinder, NISAR, SWOT, and Landsat 9.
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NASA Prepares to Launch ICON — Again

ICON spacecraft (Credit: NASA)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA and Northrop Grumman currently are preparing the agency’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, spacecraft and the Pegasus XL rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California for ferry to the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida by the L-1011 Stargazer aircraft on Oct. 1, 2019.

The launch has been rescheduled to Oct. 10, 2019, following the completion of a joint NASA/Northrop Grumman investigation into a Pegasus sensor reading that was not within normal limits during previous ferry and launch attempt flights. The cause of the issue is understood, and the flight hardware has been modified to address the issue.

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NASA Awards Launch Contract to SpaceX for X-Ray Satellite Mission

Falcon 9 launches CRS-17 mission. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, to provide launch services for the agency’s Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission, which will allow astronomers to discover, for the first time, the hidden details of some of the most exotic astronomical objects in our universe.

The total cost for NASA to launch IXPE is approximately $50.3 million, which includes the launch service and other mission-related costs.

IXPE measures polarized X-rays from objects, such as black holes and neutron stars to better understand these types of cosmic phenomena and extreme environments.

The IXPE mission currently is targeted to launch in April 2021 on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A in Florida. IXPE will fly three space telescopes with sensitive detectors capable of measuring the polarization of cosmic X-rays, allowing scientists to answer fundamental questions about these turbulent environments where gravitational, electric and magnetic fields are at their limits.

NASA’s Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center in Florida will manage the SpaceX launch service. The IXPE project office is located at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama and is managed by the Explorers Program Office at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more information about NASA programs and missions, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov