NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch and launch activities for the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission, the first satellite dedicated to measuring the polarization of X-rays from a variety of cosmic sources, such as black holes and neutron stars.
IXPE is scheduled to launch no earlier than 1 a.m. EST Thursday, December 9, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Live launch coverage will begin at 12:30 a.m. on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website. On Tuesday, December 7, NASA will hold a payload briefing at 1 p.m. and a prelaunch news briefing at 5:30 p.m.
The IXPE spacecraft includes three space telescopes with sensitive detectors capable of measuring the polarization of cosmic X-rays, allowing scientists to answer fundamental questions about extremely complex environments in space where gravitational, electric, and magnetic fields are at their limits. The project is a collaboration between NASA and the Italian Space Agency.
All media participation in news conferences will be remote except where noted otherwise. For the protection of employees and journalists in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Kennedy Press Site facilities will be open to a limited number of journalists on a first-come, first-served basis.
Full mission coverage is as follows (all times Eastern):
Tuesday, December 7
1 p.m. – IXPE Payload Briefing, with the following participants:
- Elisabetta Cavazzuti, ASI IXPE program manager, Italian Space Agency
- Luca Baldini, Italian co-principal investigator, National Institute for Nuclear Physics
- Brian Ramsey, deputy principal investigator, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center
- MacKenzie Ferrie, IXPE program manager, Ball Aerospace
5:30 p.m. – IXPE Prelaunch News Conference with the following participants:
- Sandra Connelly, deputy associate administrator for science, NASA Headquarters
- Martin Weisskopf, IXPE principal investigator, Marshall
- Makenzie Lystrup, vice president and general manager, civil space, Ball Aerospace
- Tim Dunn, launch director, NASA’s Launch Services Program
- Julianna Scheiman, director, civil satellite missions, SpaceX
- Mike McAleenan, 45th Weather Squadron, Space Launch Delta 45
Wednesday, December 8
Thursday, December 9
12:30 a.m. – NASA TV live launch coverage begins.
Audio only of the news conferences and launch coverage will be carried on the NASA “V” circuits, which may be accessed by dialing 321-867-1220, -1240, -1260 or -7135. On launch day, “mission audio,” countdown activities without NASA TV launch commentary, will be carried on 321-867-7135. A “clean feed” of the launch without NASA TV commentary will be carried on the NASA TV media channel.