Ball Aerospace Selected for NASA Astrophysics Study – SatNews

Rendering of the spacecraft that will be built by Ball Aerospace for the STAR-X mission to study cosmic events, such as supernova explosions. (Credit: Ball Aerospace)

Aeronautical balloon is part of a team selected by Nasa lead an average explorer, Stage A study to investigate cosmic explosions throughout the universe — Ball’s role in the Survey and Time-domain Astrophysical Research Explorer (STAR-X) is to provide spacecraft and observatory integration and testing.

STAR-X is one of two Mission Explorer missions that NASA selected for further study in August. The agency plans to select one in 2024 to proceed with implementation.

The nine-month phase A study is ongoing and is being led by Dr. William Zhang at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). STAR-X will use two wavelength regions – X-rays and ultraviolet (UV) – to study astrophysical phenomena. The agile observatory will have the ability to quickly orient itself to capture rare and brief cosmic events, such as supernova explosions, that have an outsized impact on the Universe.

In addition to the Ball Aerospace-built spacecraft, STAR-X will include a X-ray telescope (XRT) provided by GSFC and Massachusetts Institute of Technologyplus one UV telescope (UVT) provided by the University of Colorado.

The spacecraft will be based on the Configurable Ball Platform Small (BCP-Small), which has a wide range of capabilities and is highly reliable with proven stability and pointing performance, which is essential for astrophysics missions such as STAR-X. The BCP-Small served as a base for NASA Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE), a small exploration mission launched in December 2021 to observe polarized X-rays from extreme objects, such as neutron stars, stellar and supermassive black holes. Ball Aerospace also uses BCP-Small for NASA Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, the Reionization Epoch and the Ice Explorer (SPHEREx).

We are part of a very strong team that is innovating new ways to capture transient event data that is complementary to other observatories, such as the Roman Space Telescope and the Vera Rubin Observatory,” said Dr. Alberto Conti, Director of New Business, Civil Space, Ball Aerospace. “By having the ability to study the frequency of transient events at multiple wavelengths, we will better understand how stellar explosions fuel cosmic chemistry, how massive black holes form, and how the largest bound structures in the universe have were created..”