NASA has picked SpaceX to launch weather satellites as part of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-U (GOES-U) mission.
The agency announced the partnership, which involves a $152.5 million contract, on Friday.
According to NASA, The GOES-U mission will provide advanced imagery and atmospheric measurements of planet Earth’s weather, oceans, and environment.
It will also involve real-time mapping of total lightning activity and improved monitoring of solar activity.
The decision comes after United Launch Alliance (ULA) withdrew its bid because it no longer had the vehicles available to launch the satellites, Space News reported.
ULA spokesperson Jessica Rye told Space News: “All of the remaining 29 rockets have been sold to customers for future launches so we had to withdraw our bid for NASA’s GOES-U launch service.”
The launch is scheduled to take place in April 2024 from Launch Complex 29A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket.
The GOES-U award adds to a growing number of Falcon Heavy launches for SpaceX.
In July, NASA selected SpaceX to launch a spacecraft to Jupiter‘s moon Europa. The Europa Clipper aims to search for signs of aquatic alien life in an underground ocean, Insider’s Morgan McFall-Johnsen reported.
SpaceX also has also secured a contract from rocket company Astrobotic to send a new water-hunting rover to the moon’s unexplored south pole.
On Wednesday, SpaceX is sending civilians who aren’t professional astronauts on a mission to orbit Earth. The Inspiration4 mission involves a four-person crew, consisting of a billionaire, a physician assistant, an engineer, and a scientist.