News, Culture & Society

NASA picks SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy for its $225 million Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has been awarded a NASA launch services contract for the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope mission that will explore the mysteries of dark energy and dark matter, as well as look for new exoplanets.

The contract is considered an indefinite-delivery and indefinite-quantity contract because the mission itself currently targeted to launch in 2026 on a Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’S Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 

The total cost for NASA to launch the Roman telescope is approximately $255 million, which includes the launch service and other mission related costs. 

The total cost for NASA to launch the Roman telescope is approximately $255 million, which includes the launch service and other mission related costs. The SpaceX Falcon Heavy, pictured above, takes off from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on February 6, 2018, on its demonstration mission

The telescope’s program will include dedicated investigations to grapple with a range of outstanding questions in cosmology, including the effects of dark energy and dark matter, which scientists know very little about, and exoplanet exploration – NASA explained in a blog post. 

Roman also includes a general investigator program to enable further studies of astrophysical phenomena to advance other unspecified science goals.

The telescope, previously known as the Wide Field InfraRed Survey Telescope (WFIRST), was later renamed in honor of Dr. Nancy Grace Roman for her extraordinary work at NASA, which paved the way for large space telescopes.

Nancy Grace Roman was the first female executive at NASA and was the agency’s first chief of astronomy in the 1960s and 70s, playing a foundational role in the planning process for the Hubble Space Telescope. 

The contract for SpaceX is considered an indefinite-delivery and indefinite-quantity contract because the mission itself currently targeted to launch in 2026 on a Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA'S Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Pictured is a high-resolution image of the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope against a starry background

The contract for SpaceX is considered an indefinite-delivery and indefinite-quantity contract because the mission itself currently targeted to launch in 2026 on a Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’S Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Pictured is a high-resolution image of the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope against a starry background

As a scientist, she was well published, including one paper about the fundamental structure of the galaxy that was cited by the Astrophysical Journal as one of the 100 most important papers in the last century. 

During her tenure at NASA, Roman developed and prepared the budgets for a range of programs and she organized their scientific participation. 

In fact, prior to the introduction of peer review which brought in outside expertise, Roman was the sole individual accepting or rejecting proposals for NASA astronomy projects based on their merit and her own knowledge. 

In 1963, when entry to the astronaut corps was restricted to men, Roman said in a speech that ‘I believe that there will be women astronauts some time, just as there are women airplane pilots,’ according to the Annual Review of Astronomy and Physics. 

NASA’s Launch Services Program at Kennedy is responsible for launch vehicle program management of the SpaceX launch service. 

SpaceX, which is averaging more than a launch per week, has already matched last year's record of total successful launches as of this month - with its Falcon 9 rocket set to deliver another batch of Starlink broadband satellites to orbit this week. The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope will also hunt for new exoplanets

SpaceX, which is averaging more than a launch per week, has already matched last year’s record of total successful launches as of this month – with its Falcon 9 rocket set to deliver another batch of Starlink broadband satellites to orbit this week. The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope will also hunt for new exoplanets

SpaceX, which is averaging more than a launch per week, has already matched last year’s record of total successful launches as of this month – with its Falcon 9 rocket set to deliver another batch of Starlink broadband satellites to orbit this week.

Musk’s company also revealed in filings with the Federal Communications Commission that it may attempt a risky maneuver – using ‘chopstick arms’ and a launch tower to catch its returning Starship booster – during the massive rocket’s first orbital launch. 

The Roman Space Telescope project is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. 

NASA's next space telescope, named after NASA pioneer Nancy Grace Roman, will capture an area of the sky that's 100 times wider than what Hubble saw

NASA’s next space telescope, named after NASA pioneer Nancy Grace Roman, will capture an area of the sky that’s 100 times wider than what Hubble saw

This animation (above) shows how a planet can disappear in a star's bright light, and how a coronagraph, such as the one that will be used on the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, can reveal it

This animation (above) shows how a planet can disappear in a star’s bright light, and how a coronagraph, such as the one that will be used on the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, can reveal it

***
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk