Iridium Communications, in partnership with SpaceX, is prepared to launch five Iridium® NEXT satellites, along with the twin spacecraft for the NASA/German Research Center for Geosciences (GFZ) Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission today, May 22. SpaceX will launch this unique “rideshare” on its Falcon 9 rocket and will deliver the two payloads to two separate orbits. Both payloads and the rocket have been transported to the launch pad, and the rocket is vertical for launch. The rocket has an instantaneous launch window scheduled for 12:47:58 pm PDT (19:47:58 UTC). Once deployed, there will be a total of 55 Iridium NEXT satellites in low earth orbit.
Iridium NEXT is the company’s $3 billion, next-generation, mobile, global satellite network scheduled for completion in 2018. These new satellites are replacing the company’s existing global constellation in one of the largest technology upgrades ever completed in space. It represents the evolution of critical communications infrastructure that governments and organizations worldwide rely upon to drive business, enable connectivity, empower disaster relief efforts and more. Iridium NEXT will enable and introduce new services like the Company’s next-generation broadband service, Iridium CertusSM.
A live feed of the launch will be available starting twenty minutes prior to launch at: www.spacex.com/webcast