On Wednesday, the Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) successfully launched the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) from the Cape Canaveral spaceship port in Florida, after a third attempt. SpaceX’s CEO Elon Musk tweeted that there wasn’t going to be any attempt to recover the Falcon 9 booster rocket because of unfavorable weather conditions.
The Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) is a refrigerator-sized deep-space weather satellite, which was designed to provide useful information on incoming solar storms that may affect power grids and low orbit satellites. DSCOVR was put on orbit on Wednesday with help from a Falcon 9 Rocket at a balance point located nearly a million miles from Earth.
The space observatory is also able to map Earth’s surface in multiple wavelenghts, and will help researchers provide us with more accurate climate prediction models.
NASA planned to launch the satellite in 1998, while Vice President Al Gore was so thrilled about the mission and promoted it so much that the observatory was back tehn nicknamed “GoreSat.” After Vice President Gore left office the mission was aborted.
Years later, the satellite was redesign to be able to issue solar storm early warnings, too, while the mapping of the Earth became a secondary aim.
After the liftoff, Mr. Gore said it was inspiring to witness the launch of DSCOVR. He also said that the mission would expand our knowledge of Earth, and will enable humanity to take a closer look at the reality of the climate crisis, and find the proper solutions to it.
“DSCOVR will also give us a wonderful opportunity to see the beauty and fragility of our planet and, in doing so, remind us of the duty to protect our only home,”
Al Gore also stated, according to a NASA release.
DSCOVR mission costs about $340 million, which will be splitted between NASA, the NOAA, and the U.S. Airforce. The launch was postponed two times – on Sunday, due to a technical issue with the radar tracking system, and on Tuesday due to bad weather conditions.
It is the first time, however, that SpaceX gets involved in a deep-space mission. Until now, the initial deal with NASA was related to ferrying goods from Earth to the International Space Station (ISS).
SpaceX said that if the third attempt weren’t successful, the liftoff would have been postponed to Feb. 20, when the position of the Moon would have been the most suited for DSCOVR to reach its Earth-Sun gravitational balance point.
Image Source: Active Rain