25 November 2016, USA :
NASA has selected Elon Musk’s SpaceX to provide launch services for the agency’s Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission. Launch is targeted for April 2021 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The total cost for NASA to launch SWOT is approximately $112 million, which includes the launch service; spacecraft processing; payload integration; and 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 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 jointly developed and managed by NASA and the French space agency Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES).
NASA’s Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center in Florida will manage the SpaceX launch service. The SWOT Project office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages spacecraft development for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
The deal is the latest example of SpaceX’s growing influence in the space sector. The company is aggressive and ambitious, fuelled by a billionaire set on colonizing Mars. Image- SpaceX/ Flikr