On May 21, 2018, at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the Space Launch Complex 4E will host a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the NASA earth observation satellites GRACE and the five communications satellites Iridium Next. The launch is scheduled for May 22nd.
Credit: Bill Ingalls / NASA
SpaceX will launch two new Earth Observation satellites for NASA and five commercial communications satellites in a ride-share mission today (May 22), which you can follow live online.
NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission and five Iridium Next satellites will launch a used Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 3:47 pm EDT (1
2: 47 PDT, 1947 GMT). You can follow the start live here on Space.com and on our homepage from 15:15 clock. EDT (12:15 PDT, 1915 GMT), courtesy of a NASA television webcast
The Falcon 9 rocket engine launched the secret Zuma mission of the US Air Force in January. (This mission was lost, but SpaceX was not responsible for the mishap.) Although the rocket sustained a flawless landing on its final mission, SpaceX does not plan to attempt a landing for this flight. [The Evolution of SpaceX’s Rockets in Pictures]
The Iridium Next communications satellites launching SpaceX with GRACE-FO are the latest in a series for Iridium Communications to build the company's satellite constellation. The five Iridium Next satellites will join 50 other satellites already in orbit from five previous SpaceX launches (of which 10 satellites each were launched). When completed, the Iridium Next constellation will comprise 75 satellites – 66 operational satellites and nine spare parts.