NASA’s new Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer spacecraft is a tiny satellite with the unique ability to capture images in X-ray with polarization and timing information for every photon captured. It’s designed to operate for 2 years and capture new scientific measurements of some of the most extreme places in the universe with gravitational and magnetic fields that would destroy ordinary matter.
And in an interesting turn of events the satellite switched from the intended launch vehicle to a cheaper option that nobody considered – the Falcon 9. This is the first time we’ve seen a rocket lauched from a domestic US launch site perform such a large plane change maneuver to reach a target orbit. SpaceX normally launch satellites 10 times more massive, but this tiny satellite opened up new options and allowed this unique launch profile.
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