NASA’s highly anticipated mission to explore Jupiter’s largest moon, Europa, has officially booked its ride to space.
According to NASA officials, the $4.25bn Europa Clipper spacecraft will launch atop a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket as part of a contract worth about $178m.
If all goes according to plan, Clipper will blast off in October 2024 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and arrive at Jupiter in April 2030. The probe will then study Europa in-depth as it completes more than 40 close flybys of the moon over a period of about four Earth years.
The announcement made on Friday marks a major win for SpaceX as the Europa Clipper mission was originally slated to fly on NASA’s newest mega launcher, the Space Launch System (SLS). Aerospace giant Boeing is the prime contractor for the design, development, test and production of the SLS core stage and upper stages, as well as the flight avionics suite.
Europa Clipper was…