The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced the selection of Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) to provide launch services for its SPHEREx mission.
The SPHEREx (Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization, and Ices Explorer) mission is meant to help scientists gather data to help them understand the history of the universe among other cosmic questions.
SPHEREx is a two-year mission that should address multiple basic questions. It will create a 3D map of near-infrared light that could provide evidence of the cosmic inflation from the billionths of a second after the Big Bang, not to mention star formation in the earliest galaxies. The mission will also look for water and organic molecules in stellar “nurseries” to determine how they might have seeded the ingredients for life.
The contract comes just months after NASA certified SpaceX for regular astronaut flights. The US government is clearly comfortable with giving the company important projects, including ones that are still years away.