SpaceX has won another mission - this time, to survey the world's oceans.
NASA announced last week that it had tapped SpaceX to launch a satellite that would "make the first-ever Global Survey of Earth's surface water."
NASA has selected SpaceX to provide launch services for the agency's Surface Water and Ocean Topology (SWOT) mission. Launch is targeted in 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.
It is by no means the first time Elon Musk's ambitious company has partnered with the space agency. In 2014, SpaceX was also tasked to provide launch services for the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission, whose goal "is to detect transiting exoplanets orbiting nearby bright stars."
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. This will help in freshwater management around the world by improving ocean circulation models, and weather and climate predictions.
The SWOT spacecraft will be jointly developed and managed by NASA and 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.