NASA officials say they have selected the Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., to launch the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph spacecraft known as IRIS.
The spacecraft is to be sent into space in December 2012 aboard a Pegasus XL rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
The IRIS launch contract, valued at about $40 million, includes the launch service for a Pegasus XL, plus additional services for launch site support, integrated services and support unique to the mission, NASA said.
IRIS will make detailed measurements of the flow of energy and plasma through the sun’s atmosphere and heliosphere. The mission is designed to “open a window of discovery” into a crucial gap in current solar observational capabilities, scientists said.
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., manages the IRIS project.