Washington (dpa) – SpaceX launched a crucial climate monitoring satellite Wednesday, finding success on its third try to launch the DSCOVR observatory.
The blastoff of the Falcon rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, sent the satellite on a “million-mile journey to protect our planet Earth,” a NASA official said as NASA TV played and replayed the launch.
The Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) is intended to help US weather scientists monitor such phenomena including global warming and solar winds.
Previous launch attempts were postponed due to technical problems on Sunday and high winds Tuesday.
The private space company SpaceX had hoped to try for a second time to land part of the jettisoned Falcon 9 rocket on a floating deck in the Atlantic Ocean – a new strategy that could significantly lower the cost of space launches.
But it had to give up on those plans Wednesday due to extreme weather in the Atlantic that
sent “waves reaching up to three storeys in height crashing over the decks,” the company said on its website.
SpaceX said the rocket would attempt a soft landing in the water despite the storm, from which more data can be gathered, “but survival is highly unlikely.”
The floating deck is about 100 metres long and 60 metres wide. The company’s landing attempt after a January 10 launch was marred when the rocket reached the floating deck but landed hard.