SpaceX to launch new NASA space telescope to study dark matter in 2026

NASA has described the new Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope as a top-priority large space mission and is aiming for an October 2026 launch date.

NASA has announced that it has licensed Elon Musk's SpaceX to launch their new Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope to study dark matter and more. The launch has been scheduled for October 2026 by the earliest, and the launch vehicle chosen is SpaceX's Falcon Heavy.

The contract is described by NASA as an indefinite delivery and indefinite quantity contract, leaving it open to changes. The total cost factored in for the telescope, including launch and mission charges, is approximated at $255 million.

The telescope's goal is to study dark matter and dark energy, and search for exoplanets. Dark matter is the matter that makes up most of the universe, while dark energy is the name given to the mysterious process by which the universe keep expanding. Exoplanets are planets orbiting other stars outside our solar system.

The telescope, originally named the Wide Field InfraRed Survey Telescope and recommended by the influential 2010 Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey, was renamed after Dr Nancy Grace Roman. Her work was influential in paving the way for large space telescopes.

This news comes soon after the publication of the first photos from NASA's latest large space telescope that was launched last Christmas, the James Webb Space Telescope. The images capture the death of a star, the birth of another, as well as grainier images such as that of Jupiter.

Edited by Teja Lele


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