NASA’s Europa Clipper to fly on SpaceX Falcon Heavy

The Europa Clipper will start its journey to Jupiter’s Europa moon on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. According to documents, NASA will pay SpaceX $178 million for the launch in October 2024.

The Europa Clipper project got the green light in 2015 from NASA. The Clipper will fly by the moon 45 times and provide researchers with a detailed look at the icy world below. Many believe Europa may have an ocean lurking under its ice crust.

When the project received the green light, the spacecraft had an obligation to fly on NASA’s space launch system (SSL). However, the program is delayed and significantly over budget. At the moment, the first SSL launch is in November 2021, but NASA officials believe that the timeline is highly unlikely.

Thus, NASA requested that the Europa Clipper fly commercial to keep its timelines on track.

NASA received permission to explore commercial space companies in the 2021 budget.

This is not the first time SpaceX worked with NASA, nor will it be the last. SpaceX was recently selected this year to send two parts of the Lunar Gateway in May 2024 for $332 million.

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