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S. Korea and NASA begin development of space telescope

Preliminary design of the spacecraft for SPHEREx project (KASI)
Preliminary design of the spacecraft for SPHEREx project (KASI)
The Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute will begin a space project to develop a space telescope with the US space agency NASA and the California Institute of Technology, the ICT Ministry here announced Wednesday.

The space project, titled the Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explore, or SPHEREx, is a two-year mission designed to launch a space telescope that would collect data that could help understand the history of the universe, the ministry said.

The project managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is funded at $242 million and targeted to launch between 2024 and 2025.

When successfully perched in low Earth orbit, the spacecraft will begin mapping the sky once in every six months during its two-year mission, collecting massive data of stars, galaxies, nebulae and other celestial objects.

During the development process, KASI will provide scientific analysis and a cryogenic chamber, which will be used to test the space telescope, according to the ministry.

Caltech will work with NASA’s JPL to develop the mission payload. Ball Aerospace will provide the spacecraft and mission integration, the ministry added.

In 2016, KASI and its research partner Caltech first proposed the project to NASA‘s Astrophysics Explorers Program. The proposal was accepted by the US space agency in 2019 after a series of reviews and received the final go-ahead on Wednesday.

By Shim Woo-hyun (