How to watch the Earth-observing NASA satellites blast off

How to watch the Earth-observing NASA satellites blast off

-German science satellites created to study the movement of water masses across the Earth. 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.

The Falcon 9 rocket booster that will take the seven satellites to the stars is the same one that launched the U.S. Air Force's classified Zuma mission in January, a mission that was lost, although SpaceX is reportedly not to blame. Sensors on the spacecraft will be able to collect Global Positioning System radio occultation data for atmospheric sounding, similar to that provided by the U.S. -Taiwan COSMIC constellation and commercial satellites operated by Spire.

The company successfully launched a used Falcon 9 on Tuesday from Vandenberg Air Force Base's Space Launch Complex in California.

A SpaceX rocket Tuesday blasted off a duo of sports car-sized satellites built by the USA and Germany to reveal changes in sea level rise, ice melt and drought on Earth.

On liftoff, the Falcon 9 first-stage engines will burn for approximately 2 minutes and 45 seconds before shutting down at main engine cutoff (MECO).

The fairing recovery ship "came very close but not quite", he said on SpaceX's webcast.

The science payload from NASA and the German Centre for Geosciences included two identical satellites for the agencies' Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment-Follow On mission, continuing the work of two predecessor spacecraft that spanned 15 years ending last October.

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The constant mapping of the gravity field reveals changes in Earth's ice sheets, aquifers, lakes and sea level.

"GRACE was really a revolutionary mission for us understanding the water cycle and how the climate behaves", said Frank Webb, GRACE-FO project scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, during a pre-launch briefing May 21.

When the lead satellite passes over a mountain, it will get slightly farther from its twin for a few instants because of the extra mass in this area and a slightly stronger pull of gravity.

NASA has spent $430 million on the mission, and Germany has spent about $91 million.

The five Iridium NEXT satellites are "part of the company's campaign to replace the world's largest commercial satellite network", said a statement. Then the lower, leading satellite will be raised into the same orbit as the higher, trailing satellite. The two satellites, about the size of a sports auto, will fly in tandem 137 miles apart in a 305-mile orbit around Earth's poles. The full constellation is to consist of 66 operational satellites, nine in-orbit spares and six ground spares.

The Iridium satellites also provide platforms for a space-based air traffic management system from joint venture Aerion LLC.

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