NASA’s Europa Clipper begins its journey to the icy moon of Jupiter aboard the Falcon Heavy rocket built by SpaceX. NASA will pay SpaceX $ 178 million to launch the vehicle in October 2024.
Europa Clipper received the green light from NASA in 2015. It flies through the moon 45 times, offering scientists an engaging view of the icy world believed to be hidden in the ocean beneath its icy shell. The clipper is equipped with tools to help scientists figure out if the moon could support life.
For years, Clipper was legally required to launch NASA with a long-delayed space launch system (SLS). But with SLS constantly delayed and exceeded budget, NASA has urged Congress to consider allowing the Europa Clipper to fly commercially. Switching to another vehicle can save up to a billion dollars, The NASA High Commissioner said in 2019.
NASA was allowed to consider commercial alternatives to SLS in the 2021 budget and officially began looking for a commercial alternative soon after.
SLS has strong allies in Congress who have kept the expensive program alive for years, even though it broke budgets and deadlines. SLS’s first flight was originally scheduled to take place in 2017. That task – to launch a helm journey around the Moon – has since been pushed November 2021, and adherence to the new schedule remains “really unlikely” According to the NASA Surveillance Office, Surveillance Agency.
SpaceX launched its Falcon Heavy rocket for the first time in 2018 and began flying satellites in 2019. Earlier this year NASA chose the rocket like a journey into space designed for a two-part space station orbiting the Moon.