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In Pictures: SpaceX Falcon 9 Launches NASA's GRACE-FO & Iridium Satellites

Liftoff for SpaceX's Rideshare

Bill Ingalls/NASA

A used SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches a double mission on May 22, 2018, successfully orbiting NASA's twin GRACE-FO spacecraft and five Iridium Next communications satellites. Read our full launch story and see video here! See how the rideshare launch went in pictures here. This image: SpaceX's Falcon 9 launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 3:47 p.m. EDT (12:47 p.m. PDT local time) to kick off the GRACE-FO and Iridium Next satellite missions. This image: SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket launches NASA's twin GRACE-FO satellites and five Iridium Next communications satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Streaking to Space

SpaceX

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is seen with the NASA/German Research Centre for Geosciences GRACE Follow-On spacecraft onboard, Monday, May 21, 2018, at Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The mission will measure changes in how mass is redistributed within and among Earth's atmosphere, oceans, land and ice sheets, as well as within Earth itself. GRACE-FO is sharing its ride to orbit with five Iridium NEXT communications satellites as part of a commercial rideshare agreement.

Headed to Space Again

SpaceX

The Falcon 9 first stage used to launch GRACE-FO and the Iridium satellites had actually flown in space before. It was used to launch the secret Zuma payload for Northrop Grumman in January 2018.

Merlin Power

Bill Ingalls/NASA

The raw power of SpaceX's Merlin engines is on display in this close view of liftoff. Each Falcon 9 rocket has nine first-stage Merlin engines.

Fiery Plume

Bill Ingalls/NASA

Seconds after engine ignition, a plume of exhaust from SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket looks like fluffy cloud in this photo from NASA photographer Bill Ingalls. The camera that took this photo actually melted shortly after due to a brush fire sparked by the launch. Read our full story here!

Melted NASA Camera from SpaceX Launch

Bill Ingalls/NASA

NASA photographer Bill Ingalls posted this photo of his melted Canon camera after it was destroyed by a brush fire sparked by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on May 22, 2018. The Falcon 9 launched NASA's twin GRACE-FO satellites and five Iridium Next communications satellites. Read our full story here!

SpaceX Falcon 9 Brushfire Melts NASA Camera

Bill Ingalls/NASA

Flames from a brush fire are clearly visible this this final image from a remote camera set up by NASA photographer Bill Ingalls for SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket launch on May 22, 2018. The brush fire ultimately melted the camera, but its memory card was still accessible. Read our full story here!

Ascent

Bill Ingalls/NASA

A view of SpaceX's Falcon 9 as it leaves Earth behind.

SpaceX Falcon 9's View of Earth

SpaceX

A stunning view of Earth from SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket upper stage during the company's successful launch of NASA's GRACE-FO spacecraft and Iridium Next satellites on May 22, 2018.

A Successful Launch

Bill Ingalls/NASA

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is seen with the NASA/German Research Centre for Geosciences GRACE Follow-On spacecraft onboard, Monday, May 21, 2018, at Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The mission will measure changes in how mass is redistributed within and among Earth's atmosphere, oceans, land and ice sheets, as well as within Earth itself. GRACE-FO is sharing its ride to orbit with five Iridium NEXT communications satellites as part of a commercial rideshare agreement.

Picturesque Launch

SpaceX

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rises from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on May 22, 2018.

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