NASA has selected SpaceX to launch the agency’s Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP) mission. The mission is expected to be launched in October 2024.
IMAP was approved by NASA in June 2018 following an extensive review of proposals submitted in late 2017. The mission is designed to help researchers better understand the heliosphere, a magnetic barrier that surrounds our solar system. The barrier is where solar wind from our sun collides with material from the rest of the galaxy preventing harmful cosmic radiation from entering our solar system.
In a September 25 press release, NASA announced it had awarded the IMAP launch contract to SpaceX. The $109.4 million contract includes launch services and “other mission related costs.”
In addition to the primary payload, four secondary payloads will be launched aboard the IMAP mission.
The payloads hitching a ride are NASA’s Lunar Trailblazer mission, two additional as yet unnamed NASA heliophysics — the science of the Sun — missions, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Follow On-Lagrange 1 (SWFO-L1) mission.
All five payloads will be launched aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.