SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off with NASA X-ray telescope on board

Spacecraft to analyze cosmic X-rays from deep in the galaxy

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Florida’s Space Coast early Thursday with a NASA telescope on board designed to study X-rays from extreme sources like black holes.

The 230-foot rocket launched at 1 a.m. from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center, taking NASA’s spacecraft Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer, or IXPE, into orbit to measure the polarization of cosmic X-rays, marking the first mission of its kind.

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“The IXPE spacecraft includes three space telescopes with sensitive detectors capable of measuring the polarization of cosmic X-rays, allowing scientists to answer fundamental questions about extremely complex environments in space where gravitational, electric, and magnetic fields are at their limits,” the space agency said in a release.

The spacecraft was rolled out to the launch pad Tuesday and will measure X-rays to help “test and refine our theories of how the universe works,” according to Dr. Martin Weisskopf, IXPE’s principal investigator.

“This is going to be groundbreaking in terms of X-ray data acquisition,” Weisskopf said in a release. “We’ll be analyzing the results for decades to come.”


About the Authors:

Brenda, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando.com team in March 2021.

John Ambrogne is an executive producer for News 6 and has been with WKMG-TV since 2012. John graduated with a degree in broadcast journalism from Syracuse University and has covered breaking news and major events in Central Florida since 2002.