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SpaceX Launches DSCOVR, But Barge Landing Not Possible

Seas Described As Three Stories High Scotch Recovery Of Booster

SpaceX successfully launched its first deep space mission, boosting the DSCOVR Deep Space Climate Observatory into its proper orbit. But plans for a second landing attempt on a floating barge in the Atlantic Ocean were scrubbed by high seas.

On the SpaceX website, the company said prior to the Wednesday evening launch that "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. The rocket will still attempt a soft landing in the water through the storm (producing valuable landing data), but survival is highly unlikely."

DSCOVR was boosted atop a Falcon 9 rocket at 1803 EST Wednesday. DSCOVR is the result of a partnership between NOAA, NASA and the United States Air Force and will be used to observe and provide advanced warning of extreme emissions from the sun which can affect power grids, communications systems, and satellites close to Earth.

Falcon 9’s nine Merlin engines burned for 2 minutes and 44 seconds, shutting down as expected just prior to separation of the first and second stages.  Shortly thereafter, the second stage’s Merlin Vacuum engine ignited to begin the first of two burns for a duration of approximately 1 minute.

SpaceX said that data shows the first stage successfully soft landed in the Atlantic Ocean within 10 meters of its target.  The vehicle was nicely vertical and the data captured during this test suggests a high probability of being able to land the stage on the drone ship in better weather.

(Images provided by SpaceX)

FMI: www.spacex.com

 


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