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.
Boy, is that inexpensive. IXPE is just a few hundred kilograms and is going to a 0° inclination orbit, so Falcon 9 could fit a bit more payload aboard, but not much.
I’m going to guess that it will fly solo, and take the title away from FORMOSAT 5 for lightest payload flown by Falcon 9.