SpaceX will launch five Iridium next mobile satellites on May 22

Federico Mansilla
May 18, 2018

According to Iridium chief executive Matt Desch, Elon Musk's company needs the extra time to address a "minor processing issue" that came up while SpaceX was preparing one of the rocket's components.

The reason for this unexpected delay is connected to the five Iridium NEXT satellites that will take off on the same SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket as the twin GRACE-FO satellites.

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". Desch revealed that out of the fifty satellites already launched, forty-seven of them are in service and the other three are now moving into their planned orbits. "Instantaneous launch on 5/22 = 12:47:58 pm PDT (19:47:58 UTC) #IridiumNEXT #HereWeGo", the company said via Twitter. The Falcon 9 will launch these satellites as well. -German orbiting geophysics probes and then rise to a higher orbit to deliver the Iridium satellites.

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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.

Additionally, the GRACE-FO satellites will be monitoring our planet's atmosphere, oceans, land, and ice sheets, to keep track of the monthly changes in mass distribution. 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.

Iridium is hoping to that by September; they would deploy its next-generation satellite constellations.

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