SpaceX Current Affairs

GRACE-FO satellites: SpaceX launches NASA satellites to track Earth’s water Cycle

Elon Musk-led SpaceX has successfully launched twin NASA satellites GRACE-FO (Follow-On) that will track Earth’s water Cycle i.e. water movement and icemelt. It was launched onbaord of SpaceX’s preflown Falcon 9 Rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, US.

GRACE-FO (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On)

GRACE-FO is joint project between National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and German Research Center for Geosciences (GFZ). It is follow-on mission to original GRACE mission, which had mapped Earth’s water and ice by measuring changes in Earth’s gravity field from 2002 to 2017.

GRACE-FO will pick up where GRACE left off to continue study of rising sea levels, melting of glaciers and polar ice caps and other changes in distribution of water on Earth. The two GRACE-FO satellites will orbit together at 490km altitude near-polar orbit, circling Earth every 90 minutes.

To measure Earth’s gravity, two satellites will orbit around Earth together, with one trailing behind other at distance of 220km. The instruments on board of these satellites are so sensitive that they can detect changes with precision of about 1 micrometer (i.e. about one-tenth of a human hair over long distance).

These satellites have payload called Laser Ranging Interferometer. It can precisely measure gravity field changes due to change in separation distance between two satellites, revealing information about what kinds of features they are flying over. Earth is not perfect sphere) different features, like mountains and oceans, across its surface, so gravitational pull exerted on these satellites is not consistent. When gravity field changes, separation between two satellites changes slightly.

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Bangabandhu Satellite-1: Bangladesh’s first communication satellite to be launched by SpaceX’s Falcon 9

Bangladesh’s first communication satellite Bangabandhu-1 will be launched by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39A. It is designed to provide wide range of broadcast and communication services throughout Bangladesh.

Key Facts

It has been built by Thales Alenia Space, a Franco-Italian aerospace manufacturer. It is named after Bangladesh’s “Father of the Nation”- Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. It will provide citizens of Bangladesh Internet connectivity, phone services, radio, backhaul, direct-to-home (DTH) TV services and other communication related services. It carries total of 40 Ku and C-band transponders with capacity of 1600 megahertz and has predicted life span of 15 years. It will expand Ku-band coverage over all of Bangladesh and its nearby waters including Bay of Bengal, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Philippines and Indonesia.

Significance of satellite

It will make Bangladesh autonomous, in terms of telecommunications and broadcasting services. So far, a majority of Bangladesh’s satellite communications was based on rented transponders from India. It will also provide lot of opportunities in terms of revenue generation.

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