Today, 23rd May, SpaceX has successfully launched their Falcon 9 rocket into a mission to take into space 5 Iridium satellites and two NASA satellites. The NASA satellites are part of the NASA GRACE-FO mission. They are meant to accurately measure the changes in Earth’s water supply.
SpaceX Has Another Successful Launch
Falcon 9 has already been used in a mission. However, it worked flawlessly, taking off from the Vandenberg military base, California. According to Healththoroughfare, the rocket carried ‘precious cargo of the two NASA satellites’, which were created by the space agencies in Germany and US.
The other cargo was meant for the communication network, carrying up 5 Iridium satellites.
Falcon 9 placed GRACE-FO satellites into orbit after 11 minutes of flight, leaving it at almost 500 km altitude. Then, one hour later, the 5 Iridium satellites were dropped.
GRACE-FO satellites will continue the work of the previous GRACE mission, which started in 2002 and lasted until last year. GRACE flew over our planet to map the changes in the volume of the water, producing monthly reports. Using, gravity, the GRACE-FO satellites will calculate how much water is on Earth.
Each satellite is as big as a car, and they will fly at a 220 km distance to avoid any accidents. The two satellites will constantly change their distance because any variation of mass under them – for example, a mountain, a lake, ice – can change the gravity. These variations can be recorded and so will be the mass of water on Earth, no matter if it’s above or below the surface.
NASA GRACE-FO will monitor how the ice melts from one month to the next, how it passes through the oceans, how it evaporates and turns into rain and so on.
So far, SpaceX has been very active, with ten successful launches this year. The Falcon 9 rocket was used in January, and then it was recovered to be reused in this mission. Unfortunately, this was its last mission.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.