NASA has selected Blue Origin‘s New Glenn heavy-lift rocket to send to space a pair of identical small satellites to observe the magnetosphere around Mars.
Blue Origin secured a task order under the $300 million Venture-Class Acquisition of Dedicated and Rideshare contract to launch the Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers mission in late 2024, NASA said Friday.
ESCAPADE will lift off aboard New Glenn from Space Launch Complex-36 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida and is expected to reach Mars’ orbit 11 months after launch.
The twin satellites will carry instruments for measuring ions and electrons, plasma density and solar extreme ultraviolet flux and Mars’ magnetic field. Data gathered by the spacecraft will help scientists and researchers understand space weather on Mars to guide future space exploration missions.
ESCAPADE is part of NASA’s Small Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration initiative.