Falcon 9 lifts off with the SAOCOM 1B satellite. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA has selected Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, California, to provide launch services for the agency’s Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP) mission, which includes four secondary payloads.
IMAP will help researchers better understand the boundary of the heliosphere, a magnetic barrier surrounding our solar system. This region is where the constant flow of particles from our Sun, called the solar wind, collides with winds from other stars. This collision limits the amount of harmful cosmic radiation entering the heliosphere.
IMAP will collect and map neutral particles that make it through, as well as investigate the fundamental processes of how particles are accelerated in space, from its vantage point orbiting the Sun at the Lagrange 1 point directly between the Sun and Earth.
The total cost for NASA to launch IMAP and the secondary payloads is approximately $109.4 million, which includes the launch service and other mission related costs.
The secondary payloads to be included with the launch of IMAP are: NASA’s Lunar Trailblazer mission, two additional NASA heliophysics missions of opportunity yet to be named, and the National ...