SpaceX has signed a prestigious contract with NASA for the launch of Roman space telescope. This dark energy and dark matter space observatory was identified in 2010 as a priority mission. At a cost of more than 4.3 billion, it should be launched in October 2026 aboard a Falcon Heavy, and will join the James-Webb not far away.
That NasaNasa chose SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy to launch space telescopespace telescope Roman Space Telescope, the next big mission astrophysicsastrophysics American. Its launch is scheduled for October 2026 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. of one lotlot the 4.2-tonne launch will see the Roman Space Telescope (formerly known as WFirst) operational at Lagrange point L2Lagrange point L2an area in space located approximately 1.5 million kilometers from Earth in the opposite direction of SunSun. This is the same place where James-Webb is located.
A mission to better understand the dark universe
This unprecedented space mission aims to answer important questions in research fields aboutdark energydark energydetection of exoplanetsexoplanets and infrared astrophysics. In particular, he must see the effects ofenergyenergy dark and dark matter on a variety of objects, with as much precision as possible, to understand these two phenomena. It will answer fundamental questions about dark energy, such as whether the cosmic acceleration is caused by a new energy component or by the breakdown of general relativity on a cosmological scale.
This mission, which currently amounts to $4.32 billion, was identified in 2010 as a priority mission by the Foresight Group of US Science Agencies. Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey “. that Government Accountability Office (or GAO), the US equivalent of the French Court of Auditors, however, warned NASA of the risk of further delays to the program, citing several potential problems, some of which are related to the assembly of the 2.4 million primary mirror.
A launch contract that strengthens SpaceX’s commercial appeal
This $255 million launch contract was negotiated at a significantly higher price than most of the agency’s previous Falcon Heavy contracts. For example, the launch of the Europa Clipper probe (2024) was negotiated for $178 million, and the launch of the meteorological satellite GOES-U in 2024 will cost NASA $152.5 million. In other words, NASA is “subsidizing” in some way SpaceXSpaceXwhich allows it to “sell out” its Falcon 9Falcon 9 in the commercial satellite launch markets and to market the Falcon Heavy between $90 and $100 million.
But let’s be objective. NASA had no choice but to choose SpaceX. Everybody else launcherslaunchers Americans who could have launched this mission are not available. This is the caseAtlas 5Atlas 5 from the “overbooked” United Launch Alliance (ULA), and future Vulcan launchers from ULA and New GlennNew Glenn from Blue Origin, still under development.