Science and commercial satellites launched from California
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) — A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying two U.S.-German science satellites and five commercial communications satellites has blasted off from the central California coast.
The rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at Tuesday and arced over the Pacific Ocean west of Los Angeles as it headed toward the South Pole.
The science payload from NASA and the German Centre for Geosciences includes two identical satellites for the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment.
The mission is designed to detect the movement of Earth’s water masses and changes in mass within the planet by measuring tiny fluctuations in the distance between the two satellites as they orbit together.
The commercial payload will increase Iridium Communications’ globe-circling fleet to 55 next-generation satellites.