Update: Due to high winds, the launch has been postponed until Wednesday at 6:03 p.m. EST.
SpaceX is scheduled to make a third attempt at launching its furthest mission yet Tuesday, when the company’s Falcon 9 rocket will propel a NASA satellite into deep space before returning to Earth for a second rocket landing attempt.
The rocket will launch NASA’s new Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite to Lagrange point 1 (L1), a stable point between the gravitational pull of the Earth and the Sun some 1 million miles away — about four times the distance to the Moon. Afterward, the rocket’s first stage will return to Earth and attempt the company’s second vertical landing on its sea drone platform.
Liftoff is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. EST, assuming weather conditions hold.
Originally scheduled to take place Sunday, the launch was scrubbed when the Air Force’s radar tracking system went down. It was cancelled a second time Monday due to weather. If everything goes according to plan, the launch will coincide with the return of the company’s Dragon cargo capsule from the International Space Station, which will splash down in the pacific off the coast of Baja, California around 7:45 p.m. EST.
The Flacon 9 that carried the Dragon into orbit last month failed to land after its hypersonic grid fins — which guide the rocket down after re-entry — ran just 10 percent short of the hydraulic fluid necessary for a soft landing, causing the rocket to tip and explode on the platform. (VIDEO: Watch SpaceX’s Rocket Crash And Explode During Landing)
DSCOVR will observe solar winds and track space weather for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from L1 for 110 days.
According to NASA, “NOAA’s DSCOVR will give forecasters more reliable measurements of solar wind speed, density, and temperature, improving their ability to monitor harmful solar activity, and replace an aging research satellite currently used to warn of impacts to Earth.”
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