Science and commercial satellites launched from California

Falcon 9 launch

Falcon 9 launch

SpaceX successfully deployed the NASA satellites as expected.

SpaceX will not attempt to recover this core, as it is a Block 4 variant of the booster.

The upper part of the fairing will house two Grace Follow-On satellites that will measure month-to-month changes in Earth's gravitational pull very precisely.

SpaceX will launch two new Earth-observing satellites for NASA and five commercial communications satellites today (May 22) in a sort of carpool mission to space.

The Falcon 9's first stage was previously used for a launch from Florida in January.

The second stage will take the payload to about 300 miles up, at which point it will cut off, and about 11 minutes after liftoff the rocket will dip its nose and spin a bit to get the GRACE-FO satellites into position.

Without access to Dnepr, Iridium and the German Research Center for Geosciences (GFZ) joined forces to book a single Falcon 9, splitting the cost between them. -German GRACE-Follow On research craft to study Earth's climate and water cycle.

Update: The rocket launched. A ride-share mission for two payloads The five Iridium NEXT satellites on board the Falcon 9 will boost the satellite telephone operator's fleet of upgraded relay stations to 55 following five earlier SpaceX flights that launched 10 satellites at a time. What remains is "mission-unique and risk-reduction work that includes government-sponsored independent verification and validation as well as SpaceX's corresponding design and testing work for Block 5", he said.

For the first few days after launch, the lower, faster satellite will pull slowly ahead of the other until the two satellites are approximately 137 miles (220 kilometers) apart - the optimal separation distance for science operations. SpaceX has signed up for a total of eight Iridium NEXT launches with the aim of putting 75 new satellites into orbit. The full constellation is to consist of 66 operational satellites, nine in-orbit spares and six ground spares.

The constant mapping of the gravity field reveals changes in Earth's ice sheets, aquifers, lakes and sea level. Iridium spent around $3 billion on Iridium Next, purchasing the satellites from Thales Alenia Space in Europe. GRACE stands for "Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment".

These variations in distance will be constantly recorded by the spacecraft, because each shift signals a change in mass on the planet underneath.

NASA has spent $430 million on the mission, and Germany has spent about $91 million. That mission was lost, but SpaceX was not to blame for the mishap.

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