Launch Vehicle System

The first 10 Iridium Next satellites launched 14. January 2017 on a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Credit: Space-X

As the Russian/Ukraine Dnepr and corresponding launch services can no longer be provided by the International Space Company Kosmotras (ISCK), the joint NASA-GFZ Joint Steering Group has decided to exchange the GRACE-FO launcher. The corresponding contract was signed on 14. November 2016 by the Board of GFZ and Iridium Satellite LLC. It stipulates a "Rideshare" between GRACE-FO and 5 Iridium-Next satellites on a Space-X Falcon-9 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California within the launch period December 2017 till February 2018. This also includes a contract with Airbus D&S who will build the necessary Multi Satellite Dispenser and will perform the Launch Service Management under contract of GFZ. The GRACE-FO satellites will be launched into a co-planar orbit and following (GRACE-like) orbital parameters:    

  • a = 500 ± 15 km
  • i = 89.0 ± 0.1°
  • e < 0.0025

Further information can be found here.


Prof. Dr. Frank Flechtner

Head of Section 1.2:
Global Geomonitoring and Gravity Field

building A17 room 00.12

tel. +49 331 288-1130

c/o DLR Oberpfaffenhofen
Münchner Str. 20
D-82234 Wessling
building 126 room 113

tel. +49 8153 90832 10