NASA, SpaceX ready to launch IXPE x-ray observatory atop Falcon 9

NASA and SpaceX are set to launch the revolutionary Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) space observatory from LC-39A at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on Thursday morning atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The 90-minute launch window opens at 1:00 a.m. EST (06:00 UTC), with a backup opportunity available on Friday, December 10 within the same 90-minute launch window. IXPE is a 325 kg, three-telescope polarized x-ray observatory. A joint venture between NASA and the Italian Space Agency, IXPE will help the astronomical community better understand the physics behind — and formation of — black holes, neutron stars, supernova remnants, magnetars, and pulsars by specifically looking at polarized x-rays surrounding the objects. The Falcon 9 first stage supporting this launch is B1061-5, making its fifth flight to space. The booster previously supported NASA’s Crew-1, Crew-2, and CRS-23 missions to the International Space Station, as well as the SXM-8 mission in June 2021. The 45th Weather Squadron currently predicts a 90% chance of acceptable weather at the time of liftoff. The 10% concern in the forecast is due to the cumulus cloud rule. Following stage separation, B1061-5 will begin recovery operations, ultimately landing on SpaceX’s Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship…

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NASA, SpaceX ready to launch IXPE x-ray observatory atop Falcon 9

Updated: December 8, 2021 — 9:26 pm