SpaceX has been selected by NASA to launch the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope. The launch contract is worth approximately $255 million.
The nearly $4 billion telescope is scheduled to be launched atop the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket in October 2026 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
According to NASA, the telescope is “designed to settle essential questions in the areas of dark energy, exoplanets and infrared astrophysics.” The telescope was previously named the Wide Field InfraRed Survey Telescope (WFIRST). It was renamed in March 2020 in honour of former NASA Chief of Astronomy, Dr. Nancy Grace Roman.
SpaceX has not launched a Falcon Heavy rocket in over three years, and it looks like it might be a while still until we see the massive rocket take flight again.
SpaceX is hoping for as many as five Falcon Heavy launches this year, but all but one of those missions have been delayed. The lack of flights are not the fault of SpaceX, but rather because the missions the rocket was selected for have been delayed.
Despite no Falcon Heavy launches in over three years, SpaceX has been extremely busy with their smaller Falcon 9 rocket. The aerospace company has launched 31 times so far in 2022, already equaling their launch record from 2021 just 7 months into the year.
If their launch schedule continues as planned, they will nearly double the previous record and launch more than 50 missions in 2022, or about one per week on average.
Earlier this year SpaceX launched three missions in a span of just 36 hours.