Watch SpaceX launch the GRACE-FO and Iridium NEXT satellites here

Groundwater oceans lakes rivers and ice sheets will be monitored by the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow On

Those satellites were successfully launched about 10 minutes after launch, according to SpaceX. SpaceX did not attempt to recover it this time.

"Water is critical to every aspect of life on Earth - for health, for agriculture, for maintaining our way of living", said Michael Watkins, GRACE-FO science lead and director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The new rocket had its first successful launch May 11, when it carried Bangladesh's first geostationary communications satellite toward orbit.

The planned GPS III launch "has slipped due to ongoing SpaceX qualification testing and final engineering reviews by both SpaceX and the Air Force of Falcon 9 design changes", the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center said in a statement to Bloomberg News. The Falcon 9's first and second stages will separate seconds later.

The launch, scheduled for 1947 UTC (1247 PT) from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base today, will reuse the outdated Falcon block 4 rocket that flung mystery-sat Zuma into orbit.

When the rocket's second stage has completed its ascent to the injection orbit altitude, it will pitch down (its nose points down) 30 degrees and roll so that one of the twin GRACE-FO satellites is facing down, toward Earth, and the other is facing up, toward space.

For the first few days after launch, the lower, faster satellite will pull slowly ahead of the other until the two satellites are approximately 137 miles (220 kilometers) apart - the optimal separation distance for science operations.

A total of 75 satellites for Iridium are being sent to orbit as part of the upgrade, taking place over eight launches with SpaceX. Iridium spent around $3 billion on Iridium Next, purchasing the satellites from Thales Alenia Space in Europe. The gravity produced by the Earth's mass includes a component contributed by water, regardless of what state it may be in, like vapor, solid or liquid.

The GRACE-FO mission is a joint effort of NASA and GFZ.

"GRACE was really a revolutionary mission for us understanding the water cycle and how the climate behaves and the trends which are taking place over the last 10 or 15 years", Frank Webb, GRACE-FO project scientist, told a pre-launch press conference. The satellites will be constantly measuring the distance between them by sending microwave signals back and forth.

NASA has spent $430 million on the mission, and Germany has spent about $91 million. SpaceX appears to have been absolved from blame for this mishap, and certainly the first stage booster performed nominally during that mission.

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