SpaceX to launch Nasa’s new SWOT satellite
Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has secured a deal to launch Nasa’s new surface water and ocean topography (SWOT) mission.
Planned to take place in April 2021, the mission will be launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, US.
An estimated $112m investment is to be made by Nasa to conduct the entire mission, including the launch service, spacecraft processing, payload integration, and tracking, data and telemetry support.
SWOT is designed to carry out the first global survey of Earth’s surface water, taking into account of around 90% of the Earth's lakes, rivers, reservoirs and oceans.
Once launched, the satellite will survey Earth’s surface water at least twice in every 21 days, and improve freshwater management, ocean circulation models, and global weather and climate predictions.
To be jointly developed and managed by Nasa and French space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES), the mission will also conduct high-resolution ocean measurements and collect detailed measurements of how water bodies on Earth change over time.
Nasa’s launch services programme at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, US will manage the SpaceX launch service.
In July, SpaceX launched its Dragon cargo craft on a Falcon 9 rocket as part of Nasa’s Commercial Resupply Services-9 (CRS-9) mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
During the mission, around 5,000lb of cargo were sent to the ISS.