SpaceX will launch five Iridium next mobile satellites on May 22

Falcon 9 rocket scheduled for launch next week from Vandenberg AFB

Falcon 9 rocket scheduled for launch next week from Vandenberg AFB

The upcoming launch continues a long-standing relationship between Iridium and SpaceX; Falcon 9 rockets have already lofted 50 satellites for the communications company's Iridium Next constellation and will launch 75 of the craft over eight liftoffs when all is said and done. The Chief Executive of Iridium, Matt Desch, revealed this in a conference call with reporters.

Although Desch didn't elaborate on the nature of the problem, Spaceflight Now quotes the Iridium official as saying it was "not a big deal". Two more launches are planned for 2018. This date is a 2-days delay from the initial date, May 19th. In the eventuality that another problem should arise, Iridium has set a backup launch date for May 23.

As its name indicates, GRACE-FO follows in the footsteps of NASA's GRACE mission, which characterized Earth's gravitational field from orbit in great detail from 2002 to 2017. It will bring the total of number of Iridium NEXT satellites in space to 55. It will be the sixth Iridium launch since January 2017 when the company began a campaign to replace its entire network of communication satellites with 75 new satellites. GRACE-FO's two satellites will help measure changes in the Earth's ice sheets, glaciers, underground water storage, and sea levels, giving scientists a better understanding of the planet's changing climate.

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