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NASA awards SpaceX a $255 million contract to launch the next space telescope, which will study dark energy and exoplanets

Elon Musk’s SpaceX is set to launch the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope under a new NASA contract.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Getty Images

  • Elon Musk’s SpaceX will launch the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope in 2026 under a new NASA contract.
  • The telescope will study dark energy, dark matter, galaxies, and exoplanets, NASA said.
  • The agency said the mission’s launch is expected to cost about $255 million.

NASA on Tuesday awarded Elon Musk’s SpaceX with a contract to provide launch services for the next space telescope mission.

The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, which is 2.4 meters in diameter, is slated to launch in October 2026, the space agency said in a press release. Under the contract, SpaceX will launch the telescope on a Falcon Heavy rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The cost for the mission’s launch is expected to be around $255 million, including launch services and extra related charges, NASA said.

The Roman telescope mission comes after the $10 billion James Webb Telescope was launched into the skies in December to search for early galaxies and habitable planets. The 6.5 meter Webb telescope has already captured colorful images of ancient galaxies and new stars after taking two weeks to unfold by itself in space.

Nearly five years later, the Roman telescope will be sent into space to study dark energy, dark matter, galaxies, and exoplanets, which orbit a star outside of the solar system, according to NASA. This will help scientists to grasp the unanswered questions in cosmology, per the agency.

NASA said the telescope is expected to last in space for five years and the mission could be extended for five years.

The telescope was previously called the Wide Field InfraRed Survey Telescope but it was renamed after Dr. Nancy Grace Roman for her work at NASA, the agency said.

According to NASA, the Roman telescope will launch on a Falcon Heavy rocket, which SpaceX bills as “the world’s most powerful rocket.” The vehicle, which first flew into the skies in 2018, has three reusable boosters and can lift almost 64 metric tons into orbit, per SpaceX’s website.

SpaceX didn’t respond to Insider’s request for comment about the NASA contract.

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