A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off Tuesday with five communications satellites for Iridium’s commercial voice, data relay, and tracking network, and a pair of U.S.-German research craft to probe Earth’s climate and water cycle. Launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, occurred at 12:47 p.m. PDT (3:47 p.m. EDT; 1947 GMT).
A pair of European-built, NASA-backed research satellites set for launch Tuesday from California will extend 15 years of global gravity field measurements collected by the GRACE mission before it ended last year, supplying scientists with data to help track the melting of Earth’s ice sheets and chart the impacts of floods and droughts.
A SpaceX Dragon capsule is wrapping up a month-long mission Saturday. The spaceship departed the International Space Station at 9:23 a.m. EDT (1323 GMT), and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at approximately 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT) with nearly two tons of experiment specimens and hardware, including a habitat of mice and Robonaut 2, an experimental humanoid robot in need of repairs.