SpaceX launched NASA’s Sentinel 6-Michael Freilich oceanography satellite from Vandenberg Air Force base in California on Saturday.


A week after it sent four astronauts to the International Space Station for the first time, SpaceX launched the first of two satellites Saturday that will monitor sea level rise over the next decade.

NASA’s Sentinel 6-Michael Freilich oceanography satellite – a joint venture with the European Space Agency – began a five-and-a-half-year mission to collect “the most accurate data yet on global sea level and how our oceans are rising in response to climate change,” according to NASA.

The mission also will collect information on atmospheric temperature and humidity to improve weather forecasts and climate models.

The satellite headed into orbit on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which launched from California’s Vandenberg Air Force base at 12:17 p.m. ET Saturday. The satellite is named in honor of the late director