NASA’s IXPE Spacecraft to Launch Dec. 9

Artist rendition of NASA's IXPE
An artist’s rendition of NASA’s Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE), which is targeted to launch from Kennedy Space Center on Dec. 9, 2021.

NASA’s newest X-ray astronomy mission, Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE), is scheduled to launch Dec. 9, 2021. IXPE will launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 vehicle from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida. The launch is managed by NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at Kennedy.

IXPE will study changes in the polarization of X-ray light through some of the universe’s most extreme sources, including black holes, dead stars known as pulsars, and more. Polarization contains clues to what those environments are like and helps scientists better understand these mysterious phenomena.

IXPE is NASA’s first mission dedicated to measuring X-ray polarization.

NASA selected IXPE as a Small Explorer mission in 2017. The IXPE project is a collaboration between NASA and the Italian Space Agency. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama manages the IXPE mission. Ball Aerospace, headquartered in Broomfield, Colorado, manages spacecraft operations with support from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the Explorers Program for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.