NOAA's DSCOVR satellite launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Feb. 11, 2015. DSCOVR will provide NOAA space weather forecasters more reliable measurements of solar wind conditions, improving their ability to monitor potentially harmful solar activity. Image Credit: NASA

SpaceX Launches Falcon 9 with DSCOVR, But Fails to Recover Rocket 1st Stage

The US space agency NASA has launched its Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) finally after postponing it thrice on Wednesday to monitor solar activity in deep space at 6:03 pm ET.

SpaceX said in a statement, “Unfortunately we will not be able to attempt to recover the first stage of the Falcon 9. The drone ship was designed to operate in all but the most extreme weather. We are experiencing just such weather in the Atlantic with waves reaching up to three stories in height crashing over the decks. Also, only three of the drone ship’s four engines are functioning, making station-keeping in the face of such wave action extremely difficult.”

landing platformIt however said, “The rocket will still attempt a soft landing in the water through the storm (producing valuable landing data), but survival is highly unlikely.” After the first stage, the Falcon 9 rocket was supposed to return to the Earth splashing on a pre-designated floating sea platform in the Atlantic. If this is successful, then SpaceX is planning to recover all its future rockets for re-use saving millions of dollars.

Launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, DSCOVR will provide space weather forecasters from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with accurate measurements of solar wind conditions.

“DSCOVR is the latest example of how NASA and NOAA work together to leverage the vantage point of space to both understand the science of space weather and provide direct practical benefits to us here on Earth,” explained John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, DC.

With DSCOVR in its distant orbit, it will become the US’s first operational satellite in deep space, orbiting between the Earth and the sun at a location called the first Lagrange point, or L1. DSCOVR will join at this orbit NASA’s Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) research satellite, and replace the 17-year-old satellite which may continue its important role in space weather research.

In addition, DSCOVR carries two NASA Earth-observing instruments that will gather a range of measurements from the ozone and aerosols in the atmosphere, to changes in Earth’s radiation budget. A NASA solar-science instrument, the Electron Spectrometer, is aboard and will measure electrons in the solar wind.




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