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NASA Awards Global Water Survey Mission to SpaceX

Falcon 9 rocket selected for science mission in 2021, launching from Vandenberg Air Force Base

NASA recently announced the selection of Space Exploration Technologies to provide launch services for the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission, which will be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base. Click to view larger
NASA recently announced the selection of Space Exploration Technologies to provide launch services for the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission, which will be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base. (NASA photo)

A NASA mission to survey water from space will get a ride to orbit aboard a Falcon 9 rocket set to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The space agency recently announced the selection of Space Exploration Technologies to provide launch services for the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission. 

Launch is targeted for April 2021 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex-4 East on South Base, NASA officials said.

The total cost for NASA to launch SWOT is approximately $112 million, which includes the launch service; spacecraft processing; payload integration; and tracking, data and telemetry support.

“Designed to make the first-ever global survey of Earth’s surface water, in addition to high-resolution ocean measurements, the SWOT mission will collect detailed measurements of how water bodies on Earth change over time,” NASA officials said in a statement.

The satellite will survey at least 90 percent of the globe, studying Earth's lakes, rivers, reservoirs and oceans, at least twice every 21 days. 

The data, NASA representatives said, will aid in freshwater management around the world, and improve ocean circulation models and weather and climate predictions. 

The SWOT spacecraft will be jointly developed and managed by NASA and the French space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES).

The new contract comes as SpaceX works to return Falcon 9 to flight following a mishap during testing in Florida Sept. 1.

The investigation team is focusing on a breach in the cryogenic helium system of the second stage liquid oxygen tank for the fiery mishap.

In late October, SpaceX officials said they had not confirmed the root cause of the breach.

SpaceX representatives said they were working toward returning to flight before the end of 2016.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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