NASA on Friday mentioned it had chosen SpaceX to launch a deliberate voyage to Jupiter’s icy moon Europa, an enormous win for Elon Musk’s firm because it units its sights deeper into the photo voltaic system.
The Europa Clipper mission will launch in October 2024 on a Falcon Heavy rocket from the Kennedy House Heart in Florida, with the entire contract value $178 million.
The mission was beforehand supposed to take off on NASA’s personal House Launch System (SLS) rocket, which has been tormented by delays and value overruns, with critics calling it a “jobs program” for the state of Alabama the place a lot of the event work is going down.
Whereas SLS is not but operational, Falcon Heavy has deployed on each industrial and authorities missions since its maiden flight in 2018 when it carried Musk’s personal Tesla Roadster into area.
It generates greater than 5 million kilos of thrust (22 million Newtons) at liftoff, equal to roughly eighteen 747 plane.
The Europa clipper orbiter will make about 40 to 50 shut passes over Europa to decide whether or not the icy moon might harbor situations appropriate for life.
Its payload will embody cameras and spectrometers to produce excessive-decision pictures and compositional maps of the floor and ambiance, in addition to radar to penetrate the ice layer to search for liquid water beneath.