may, 2018

19may20:03Falcon 9 • Iridium-6 & GRACE-FO

Event Details

Launch Date: May 19, 2018
Launch Window: 20:03 UTC
Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9 FT
Launch Operator: SpaceX
Launch Site: SLC-4E Vandenberg Air Force Base, California
1st Stage Recovery: No
Payload: 5 Iridium-NEXT, GRACE-FO 1 & 2
Payload Operator: Iridium Communications / GFZ/NASA


A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch five Iridium-NEXT mobile communications satellites and a pair of gravity-sensing satellites into Low Earth Orbit on a shared ride between Iridium Communications and GRACE-FO operators GFZ and NASA. SpaceX has been contracted to deploy 75 Iridium-NEXT satellites with deployment occurring in batches of ten, meaning one Falcon 9 would fly with half a load, leaving surplus performance for a co-passenger. The two GRACE Follow-On Satellites are flying as an extension of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment that has been tracking Earth’s gravitational field since 2002 and is headed into retirement in late 2017. GRACE shows how mass is distributed around the planet and its variation over time, allowing for modeling of Earth’s oceans, geology and climate.

The Iridium satellites are headed to orbit in the continued effort to replace the entire heritage Iridium constellation with upgraded satellites supporting global communications, aeronautical monitoring and ship tracking.


Mission Resources:

? Launch Vehicle Overview: Falcon 9 FT

? Payload Overview: Iridium-NEXT Satellite & Constellation

Countdown Timeline

Launch Weather

? Launch Site Schedule


Previous Iridium-NEXT Missions:





(Saturday) 20:03 UTC


Space Launch Complex 4

Vandenberg AFB Space Launch Complex 4, Lompoc, CA, United States