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.
“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.”
Our #IXPE observatory will soon give us a new look into the universe! Launch is targeted for Thursday, Dec. 9 at 1am ET and live coverage will begin at 12:30am ET. Weather is currently 90% favorable for liftoff.— NASA's Kennedy Space Center (@NASAKennedy) December 8, 2021
Watch: https://t.co/zeQgK4uW8J pic.twitter.com/LoBMoaIkQC