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LAUNCH OF NASA’S GRACE-FO PLUS IRIDIUM NEXT SATELLITES, May 22, 2018, Vandenberg AFB, CA, 3:47 pm ET (webcast)

UPDATE, May 20:  The launch is still scheduled for May 22 at 3:47 pm ET.  NASA TV coverage begins 3:15 pm ET. 

UPDATE, May 15 :  Iridium tweeted tonight that the launch is now scheduled for May 22 at 3:47 pm ET (12:47 pm Pacific) “due to range availability.”   

UPDATE, May 14:  Iridium CEO Matt Desch said this morning that the launch has been delayed until no earlier than May 21 because of a launch vehicle issue.  An exact date will be announced later.   If May 21 is the date, the launch will be at 12:53 pm Pacific time.

Original Entry:

NASA’s GRACE Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission will be launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket together with a set of five commercial Iridium NEXT satellite from Vandenberg AFB, CA on May 19, 2018 at 4:04 pm Eastern Daylight Time (1:04 local time at the launch site).

The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission will measure and monitor monthly changes in how mass is redistributed within and among Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, land and ice sheets, as well as within Earth itself.  It is a follow-on to the original GRACE mission, launched in 2002 and operational until October 2017.  Both GRACE and GRACE-FO are cooperative missions of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR).

GRACE-FO’s launch is a “ride-share” with the commercial Iridium satellites, which are being launched into a compatible orbit.

A pre-launch press conference will take place on May 17.


May 22, 2018
8:00 am - 11:00 pm