SpaceX and NASA have both announced that they will launch two of the first two satellites of their two-satellite constellation, the Constellation Program, at an undisclosed date in the coming weeks.
The two new satellites will join the six-satellites currently in space, which was launched last November and October.
“We have been looking for opportunities to increase the breadth of our constellation and we are excited to be able to launch both new satellites and older satellites,” said Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and co-founder of SpaceX.
“The Constellation program is a very important program for us and our customers, and we’re proud to be delivering it.”
The new satellites, CRS 18 and CIRES-4, are scheduled to fly from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, while the CIRPS-4 satellite will be launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida using Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket.
Both satellites will be carrying scientific experiments to gather data on space weather, meteorology and oceanography, as well as conducting orbital reconnaissance.
“It’s an important addition to our mission portfolio, which has always been focused on providing access to space for our customers,” said David Stenstrom, NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations.
“NASA and SpaceX have been working together to deliver these satellites, and I’m confident that we’ll see a successful launch in the near future.”
Both satellites are scheduled for launch from Kennedy, and are expected to lift off around 4:00 p.m.
EDT (0700 GMT).
They will reach their orbit around the Earth at an altitude of about 12,600 miles (19,600 kilometers).
They should reach their destinations in about two weeks.
SpaceX and the United Launch Alliance (ULA) are both developing the Constellis constellation, with SpaceX and ATK.
Orbital ATK, which manufactures and launches the Antares rockets, has also been developing the satellites for NASA.