Why use several rockets when one single rocket can transmit multiple satellites to space? Well, the perfect answer to this question is given by Elon Musk-owned space company SpaceX. The America-based space company will offer one of its Falcon 9 rockets to set out NASA and Iridium satellites from the ground to space.
As announced by the Satellite operator Iridium today, SpaceX will pony up one of its Falcon 9 launchers for ridesharing of two NASA satellites and five from its own company. Iridium has recently signed a contract with SpaceX for sharing its space rides with NASA. As per the announcement made by the United State-based satellite operator, the seven probes – five from Iridium itself and two from NASA will be launched on one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets in the first quarter of 2018. With NASA, Iridium will launch five of its NEXT Satellites, for the accurate management of communication system.
The ridesharing launch will be a module of Iridium’s arrangement to make a massive assemblage of telecommunications satellites in lower orbit of Earth, called Iridium NEXT. SpaceX has already signed a treaty with the communication company for setting out 70 of the Iridium NEXT satellites through seven launches and this is the eighth one. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket has already launched the first 10 of the 70 NEXT satellites back in January; under a significant space operation that marked SpaceX’s come back to space industry after the stubborn period following its September launch-pad flare-up.
As mentioned above, it is the eighth contract of Iridium with the SpaceX for launching its satellite from Falcon 9. However, this is the earliest rideshare of Iridium to space. With five NEXT satellites, two NASA’s GRACE-FO spacecraft will take wings from the space in early 2018. GRACE-FO spacecraft are designed by the GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences that will be deployed for creating map of Earth’s gravity field.
This most recent Falcon 9 launch is scheduled to take place from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The two NASA GRACE-FO satellites are successors to NASA’s current GRACE mission, which was introduced in 2002. Like the original mission, two successor GRACE-FO satellites will also help the space agency to track large-scale alterations in the distribution process of earth.