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SpaceX Scores NASA Contract Deal to Launch Surface Water and Ocean Topography Satellite

By Lynn Palec, | November 29, 2016

SpaceX will reportedly use one of its Falcon 9 rockets to launch the SWOT satellite into orbit. (YouTube)

SpaceX will reportedly use one of its Falcon 9 rockets to launch the SWOT satellite into orbit. (YouTube)

SpaceX recently signed a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) worth $112 million to launch the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite for the US space agency. Once launched, SWOT will conduct the first-ever worldwide study of the planet's surface water.

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SpaceX will reportedly use one of its Falcon 9 rockets to launch the SWOT satellite into orbit. The launch is scheduled to take place in April 2021 at the Vanderberg Air Force Base in California.

The main objective of the SWOT satellite project is to measure, in fine details, the Earth's ocean surface topography as well as study how the planet's body of waters change over time. The project is also tasked with measuring water shortage changes in the Earth's lakes, wetlands, and reservoirs to help scientists determine how the planet's water dynamics work.

In a statement acquired by The Space Reporter, SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell said, "We're excited to carry this critical science payload into orbit for NASA, the nation, and the international community. We appreciate NASA's partnership and confidence in SpaceX as a launch provider."

This is not the first launch deal that SpaceX has scored from NASA. In January, SpaceX facilitated that launch of NASA's Jason-3 ocean monitoring satellite, according to Engadget. The satellite would study Earth's sea level rise, ocean circulation, and surface height.

In 2017, SpaceX is also slated to launch NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite of TESS. The satellite's main task is to look for miniature exoplanets, through the transit method, which orbits some bright starts.

Founded by visionary and current Tesla chief executive officer Elon Musk, SpaceX is also responsible for handling resupply missions to the International Space Station. Musk has laid out his vision of colonizing Mars through this enterprise. SpaceX is currently developing a manned model of its Dragon spacecraft.

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