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

At the Launch Pad

Bill Ingalls/NASA

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying NASA's GRACE Follow-On Earth-observation satellites and five Iridium Next communications satellites stands atop Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on May 21, 2018. Liftoff is scheduled for May 22.

NASA's GRACE-FO Twins

Iridium Communications Inc.

Technicians inspect the twin GRACE Follow-On satellites and their multisatellite dispenser at the SpaceX facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The satellites were subsequently stacked atop another satellite dispenser containing the five Iridium Next communications satellites they'll ride with to orbit.

A Satellite Cake?

Iridium Communications

NASA's twin GRACE Follow-On spacecraft (top) and five Iridium Next communications satellites are stacked like a cake before being loaded onto a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket for a May 22, 2018, launch into orbit from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Building GRACE-FO

USAF

The twin satellites for NASA's GRACE-FO mission are prepared for launch at the Astrotech Space Operations processing facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

Twins in Space

NASA

The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) follow-on mission will use twin satellites to detect changes in water and ice around the globe.

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