by Jeff Cunningham
Tomorrow evening, Sunday, February 8, SpaceX will once again attempt the historic recovery of a Falcon 9 booster rocket on a drone-piloted barge in the Atlantic Ocean shortly after they launch the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite into orbit.
It’s appropriate that SpaceX is aiming high for this launch, because their customer for the DSCOVR mission is the United States Air Force, in conjunction with NOAA and NASA. The probe will station itself at the Lagrange-1 Point, or L-1, a point in space about 1 million miles from Earth where the gravitational pull of our planet and the sun balance each other enough for DSOCVR to remain there indefinitely. Its mission will be to observe solar weather patterns (such as sunspots and solar storms) and how they can affect life on Earth, not to mention your wi-fi reception.
The launch window will open at approximately 6:10pm EST on Sunday, February 8, 2015, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. If all goes as planned, the DSCOVR satellite will be deployed to a 1,241,000 x 187 km orbit at 37 degrees approximately 35 minutes after liftoff, and that’s when the real fun will begin! Because that’s when, using GPS tracking, the Falcon 9 will guide its way back to the drone ship waiting for it in the Atlantic. If all goes as planned, it’ll touch down like a downy feather on the deck of the ship, which SpaceX, in their typically cheeky style we’ve come to know and love, has christened “Just Read the Instructions.”
If you remember, the last time SpaceX attempted this (after launching an unmanned Dragon to the International Space Station last month), the landing was, as Serenity’s Hoban Washburne would say, “interesting”…
Those who want to watch tomorrow’s potentially historic launch can log on to online coverage beginning at 5:50pm EST tomorrow at livestream.com.