NASA announced that SpaceX has been awarded a contract by SpaceX to launch the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope from a Falcon Heavy rocket at Kennedy Space Center in Florida in October 2026. The contract covers launch and other costs.
After the James Webb Space Telescope, the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope will be the next major astrophysical mission. The spacecraft has a primary mirror measuring 2.4 meters, a wide-angle instrument, and a coronagraph to conduct research on cosmology, exoplanets, and general astrophysics.
The spacecraft will weigh in at 4200kg and operate from the Earth Sun Lagrange point L-2. This is a region of space approximately 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, in the direction of the Sun. This is also where JWST, and other astrophysics missions, operate.
The launch contract costs more than any previous NASA Falcon Heavy mission contracts. SpaceX was awarded a $178 million Falcon Heavy Europa Clipper mission by NASA in 2024. $152.5 million is the value of the September 2021 contract for Falcon Heavy weather satellite GOES–U. It was also launched in 2024. SpaceX offers Falcon Heavy launches at a price of $97million. The company raised that price to $97 million earlier this year due to “excessive inflation”.
NASA’s most important mission is the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope. It serves both science and program management. This mission was previously known as the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope, (WFIRST) and is the flagship priority mission of the 2010 Decennial Astrophysical Survey. In November 2021, the latest 10-year review concluded that the telescope was “remains powerful” and needed to achieve the scientific goals set forth in the previous review.
The telescope is still being developed despite initial difficulties. Despite initial problems, the launch of this mission was delayed for seven months. The cost of the mission increased by $382million due to the effects from the pandemic. The total cost of the mission’s life cycle is $4.32 billion.
NASA previously stated that the James Webb Space Telescope had been irreparably damaged.