The next chance to launch the satellite, championed by Vice President Al Gore, is today at 6:07 pm EasternBy Tariq Malik and SPACE.com | February 9, 2015
Sunday's launch delay means that SpaceX's payload, the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR for short), will have to wait at least another day to reach space.
The spaceflight company SpaceX aborted the planned launch of a long-awaited space weather satellite on Sunday, as well as a novel rocket landing test, due to problems with a U.S. Air Force ground radar tracking system.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was less than 3 minutes from launching the Deep Space Climate Observatory into the sunset sky above Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida when the radar issue forced the delay. The next chance to launch the satellite, and attempt an ambitious Falcon 9 rocket landing test, will be on Monday (Feb. 9) if the radar issue can be fixed in time. Liftoff would occur at 6:07 p.m. EST (2307 GMT).
"Air Force tracking radar went down. Launch postponed to same time tomorrow, " SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wrote on Twitter after the delay. Musk added that the radar delay will allow SpaceX to replace a problematic video transmitter on the Falcon 9 booster's first stage.
If SpaceX is able to proceed on Monday, you can watch the Falcon 9 launch live online beginning at 5 p.m. EST (2200 GMT), courtesy of NASA TV.
John Insprucker, SpaceX's Falcon 9 product manager, said the Air Force's tracking radar is a vital safety system to make sure that rocket launches remain on course as they launch across its Eastern Range. Range safety officers use the radar to track rockets in flight in order to destroy the boosters if something goes wrong.
"It is required for range safety for the flight of the Falcon 9, " Insprucker said in a SpaceX webcast.
The upcoming Falcon 9 rocket landing test will be SpaceX's second attempt this year to return a booster to Earth as part of the company's reusable rocket technology program. A Jan. 10 rocket landing attempt returned the Falcon 9 stage to SpaceX's autonomous spaceport drone ship, but crashed and exploded after running out of hydraulic fluid for its steering fins on the way down.
SpaceX has loaded the Falcon 9 booster on this flight with more hydraulic fluid for the trip. Musk has also named the drone ship "Just Follow the Instructions" after the sentient colony ship dreamed up by science fiction author Iain M. Banks. SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets are named for the Millennium Falcon of "Star Wars" lore.
Longer wait for DSCOVR
Sunday's launch delay means that SpaceX's payload, the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR for short), will have to wait at least another day to reach space. The satellite, originally conceived as an Earth science mission in 1998 under the name Triana, has been waiting 17 years for its ride into space. [DSCOVR's Space Weather Mission in Pictures]
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