SpaceX won a contract that will see it launch an important astrophysics mission into Earth orbit for NASA. SpaceX put the NASA SPHEREx spacecraft into orbit as early as 2024. SPHEREx is a spacecraft weighing 329 pounds, and it will be pushed into orbit aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket as early as June 2024. The mission will launch from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. SPHEREx is a space observatory and is the latest medium-class spacecraft created under the NASA Explorers program of astrophysics missions. Observations in infrared light allow the spacecraft to observe distant galaxies.
With data collected by the spacecraft, scientists will conduct an all-sky survey to measure the unique signatures of more than 300 million galaxies across the universe and 100 million stars in the Milky Way. The spacecraft will also search for signs of water and organic molecules in stellar nurseries, which are areas that form stars where planets could form. The total cost for NASA to launch SPHEREx is approximately $98.8 million, which includes the launch service and other mission related costs.