After being delayed by several days because of radar issues and bad weather, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket carrying the $340 million Deep Space Climate Observatory mission finally lifted off from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Wednesday evening.
Michael Curie of NASA communications, said, “Everything has gone just as planned. The Falcon took flight, propelling the Deep Space Climate Observatory on a million-mile journey to protect our planet Earth.”
However, because of rough seas the company was forced to cancel its effort to land the leftover booster on an ocean platform. Waves towering three stories high crashed over the landing-zone platform floating 370 miles off the Florida coast. One of four engines, which were needed to keep the platform steady, was also not working.
Therefore, with three hours remaining in the countdown, the company called off the radical landing test of the first-stage booster. It would have been just the second such experiment after last month’s try, which ended in flames when the booster slammed into the platform, fell over and exploded.
SpaceX spokesperson, said, “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.”
However, NASA’s satellite successfully separated from the rocket 35 minutes after liftoff. It will continue on a 110-day journey to a neutral orbit between the Earth and sun, a million miles away. Once it reaches its position the satellite will monitor solar storms that can damage satellites, power grids and other infrastructure, enabling the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to provide early warnings. The spacecraft also carries two NASA instruments that will take pictures of the full, sunlit side of Earth and take measurements supporting climate research.
NASA has stated that the gravitational forces of the sun and Earth are currently in equilibrium. This will allow the satellite to follow the Earth around the sun while keeping a constant watch on both the sun and the Earth’s sunny side.