The twin spacecraft of GRACE-FO are seen against the blackness of space, with clouds and the blue Pacific Ocean beneath.

The two satellites that make up NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission, launching May 19, 2018, will monitor changes in ice sheets and glaciers, underground water storage and sea level, providing a unique view of Earth’s climate that has far-reaching benefits. In this artist's concept, GRACE-FO is seen in orbit over the Pacific Ocean. Credit: NASA

Media accreditation is now open to cover the launch of NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission -- twin satellites that constitute the agency’s latest Earth-observing mission.

GRACE-FO will continue the task of the original GRACE mission, providing 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.

GRACE-FO will launch as part of a commercial rideshare mission with five Iridium Communications Inc. satellites aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The Iridium-6/GRACE-FO launch is scheduled for no earlier than 1:03 p.m. PDT (4:03 p.m. EDT) May 19 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Media who are interested in covering the launch at Vandenberg can apply by emailing .

Media who are foreign nationals or green card holders must complete an online application and provide a photocopy of their passport to by no later than 2 p.m. PDT Monday, April 16. Media who are U.S. citizens must apply online no later than 2 p.m. PDT Sunday, May 13.

Vandenberg Air Force Base security will have final authority to decide which media are credentialed to cover launches, and submitting the request by the deadline does not guarantee approval.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages the GRACE-FO mission for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, under the direction of the Earth Systematic Missions Program Office at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The spacecraft were built by Airbus Defence and Space in Friedrichshafen, Germany, under subcontract to JPL. The GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences contracted GRACE-FO launch services from Iridium. GFZ has subcontracted mission operations to the German Aerospace Center (DLR), which operates the German Space Operations Center in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany.

Additional details on the mission and prelaunch media activities will be announced closer to the launch date.

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