NASA to Launch GRACE Satellite Replacements Aboard SpaceX Rocket in Early 2018

NASA will launch the Airbus-built replacement satellites for the U.S.-German Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellite duo aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in the first quarter of 2018, Space Flight Now reported Tuesday.

The space agency inked a shared launch agreement with Iridium and the Helmholtz Center-Potsdam German Research Center for Geosciences called GFZ to launch the GRACE-FO tandem alongside Iridium communications payloads.

GRACE will perform its final science collection mission in mid-October prior to its decommissioning in November after 15 years worth of in-space service.

“As the fuel is exhausted, there will be a few final satellite settings to be made in terminating control of the satellites and then the team will let the mission end as the satellite altitude decreases, in an uncontrolled manner, due to the effects of atmospheric drag,” said Alan Buis, spokesman for the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Matt Desch, Iridium CEO, said that the GRACE-FO launch will be sixth in the deployment sequence of the company’s next-generation voice and data relay constellation which will be around February to March 2018.

NASA initially planned to launch the GRACE-FO satellites on the Russian-Ukrainian Dnepr rocket, but the Russian government suspended the platform’s launch.

Check Also

PAR Government

PAR Subsidiary Wins Air Force Tech R&D Contract

A PAR Technology subsidiary has won a potential five-year, $12M contract to help the Air Force Research Laboratory develop technologies and an operational concept. PAR Government Services will use AFRL's Integrated Information Management System Cyber Technology Maturation Framework Form, Fit, and Function framework in R&D, assembly, integration, analysis and testing efforts, the Department of Defense said Monday.

Tony Frazier EVP Maxar Technologies

Tony Frazier on Maxar’s Use of Commercial Tech to Support National Security Missions

Tony Frazier, executive vice president of global field operations at Maxar Technologies and a four-time Wash100 awardee, said the company uses commercial technology advancements to help the U.S. government manage national security operations and address various threats from near peer competitors, the ongoing global health crisis and extreme weather events.

Parsons

Parsons to Receive Air Force Research Lab Support Task Orders

Parsons is scheduled to receive three task orders worth $69M combined later this year to update software applications and perform mission support for the Air Force Research Laboratory.