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NASA Television to Air Coverage of Earth-Observing Satellite Duo Launch

GRACE-FO animation
GRACE-FO will demonstrate the effectiveness of using lasers instead of microwaves to more precisely measure fluctuations in the separation distance between the two spacecraft, potentially improving the precision of range fluctuation measurements by a factor of at least 10 on future GRACE-like missions. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Media are invited to cover the prelaunch briefing and launch of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO), NASA’s latest Earth-observing satellite mission. The briefing on Thursday, May 17, and launch on Saturday, May 19, will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

A joint mission with the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ), GRACE-FO will provide critical measurements that will be used together with other data to monitor the movement of water masses across the planet and mass changes within Earth itself. Monitoring changes in ice sheets and glaciers, underground water storage, and sea level provides a unique view of Earth’s climate and has far-reaching benefits. The mission is planned to fly at least five years.

The prelaunch news briefing will be held at 2 p.m. EDT May 17 at Vandenberg. Media who wish to participate by phone must contact Elena Mejia at or 818-354-1712, no later than 12:30 p.m. May 17.

Media and the public also may ask questions during the event via social media using the hashtag #askNASA. 

Briefing participants will be:

  • David Jarrett, GRACE-FO program executive in the Earth Science Division at NASA Headquarters
  • Frank Webb, GRACE-FO project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)
  • Frank Flechtner, GRACE-FO project manager at GFZ
  • Phil Morton, NASA GRACE-FO project manager at JPL
  • Capt. Jennifer Haden, weather officer for the 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg

The satellites are scheduled to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 4:04 p.m. EDT May 19 from Space Launch Complex-4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. GRACE-FO will share its ride to orbit with five Iridium NEXT communications satellites as part of a commercial rideshare agreement. Launch coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

JPL manages the GRACE-FO mission for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. GFZ contracted GRACE-FO launch services from Iridium, and SpaceX is providing the Falcon 9 launch service.

More information on public launch viewing, as well as media coverage opportunities and logistics, is available at:

Join the conversation online and follow GRACE-FO on Twitter and Facebook at:



Steve Cole
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-0918 / 202-657-2194
Alan Buis
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-354-0474 / 818-653-8339