NASA Enlists SpaceX To Take The First Survey Of Earth's Surface WaterBy Emily Marks, UniversityHerald Reporter
SpaceX has won the NASA launch contract for the first-ever survey of the Earth's surface water. The launch is scheduled for Apr. 2021.
In NASA's press release, the space agency announced that it has chosen Elon Musk's space company, SpaceX, to provide the launch services needed for its Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission. It is expected to happen five years from now.
The launch will use SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket. It will be launched from the Space Launch Complex 4E at the Vanderberg Air Force Base in California.
It was revealed that the total cost for NASA's SWOT mission is about $112 million. This includes launch service, spacecraft processing, payload integration as well as tracking, data and telemetry support.
"Designed to make the first-ever global survey of Earth's surface water, in addition to high-resolution ocean measurements, the SWOT mission will collect detailed measurements of how water bodies on Earth change over time," the space agency wrote. "The satellite will survey at least 90 percent of the globe, studying Earth's lakes, rivers, reservoirs and oceans, at least twice every 21 days, aid in freshwater management around the world, to improve ocean circulation models and weather and climate predictions."
The SWOT spacecraft will be developed and managed by NASA and French space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES). The SpaceX launch service will be managed by NASA's Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
According to Tech Crunch, SpaceX currently has nine missions with NASA on its planned launch manifest for upcoming contracts. It was previously reported that Elon Musk has confirmed that the cause of the Falcon 9 rocket blast was its fueling system. He also announced that rocket launches may resume as early as December
NASA has expressed alarm over SpaceX's "unique and contrarian fueling process." It seems that the space agency is concerned with the process because it involves people on board the spacecraft.