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Elon Musk's SpaceX Gets Contract for NASA’s Surface Water and Ocean Topography Mission

Nov 23, 2016 03:50 AM EST

Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or more popularly known as SpaceX, scores new contract for the Falcon 9 launch of NASA's Earth science satellite, the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT). Its target launch is for April 2021 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX, in a statement to Space News said, "We're excited to carry this critical science payload into orbit for NASA, the nation, and the international community. We appreciate NASA's partnership and confidence in SpaceX as a launch provider."

The American aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company won the $112 million NASA project, which according to an official statement from NASA, includes the launch service itself as well as spacecraft processing, payload integration, and tracking, data and telemetry support.

The SWOT contract is the third NASA spacecraft contract Space X has been awarded with, although the company also do commercial cargo and crew programs for the space agency on the side. Previous NASA contracts with Space X include the Falcon 9 launch of the Jason-3 satellite in January, and the launch of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission, currently scheduled for no earlier than late 2017. It is, however, the biggest contract so far. Based on previous contract announcements, the Jason-3 contract was valued at $82 million and the TESS award at $87 million.

"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, aid in freshwater management around the world, to improve ocean circulation models and weather and climate predictions. The SWOT spacecraft will be jointly developed and managed by NASA and the French space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES)," NASA Spokeswoman Cheryl Warner said in the official press release.

Check out Space X's  successful launch and landing of Falcon 9 last year.

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