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SpaceX Launches Sun-Monitoring Observatory Into Deep Space

The mission, which was pushed back from Monday to Tuesday, will give the company another opportunity to attempt to land its reusable rocket on a barge in the ocean.

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Updated 6:15 p.m. ET Wednesdays — The rocket launched successfully on Wednesday.

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#DSCOVR - the first @NOAA deep space satellite has launched and is headed to orbit.

NOAA Satellites@NOAASatellitesFollow

#DSCOVR - the first @NOAA deep space satellite has launched and is headed to orbit.

3:11 PM - 11 Feb 15ReplyRetweetFavorite

The planned barge landing of the rocket was called off because of high waves.

Rocket soft landed in the ocean within 10m of target & nicely vertical! High probability of good droneship landing in non-stormy weather.

Elon Musk@elonmuskFollow

Rocket soft landed in the ocean within 10m of target & nicely vertical! High probability of good droneship landing in non-stormy weather.

3:52 PM - 11 Feb 15ReplyRetweetFavorite

A 1990s satellite that's been in storage is set to get a new life monitoring potentially dangerous emissions from the sun.

The Deep Space Climate Observatory, or DSCOVR, is scheduled to be launched by SpaceX on Monday from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The launch will also give the commercial space company a chance to try to accurately land its Falcon 9 rocket — a step important to the development of cost-effective reusable rockets.

The launch, originally scheduled for Sunday evening, will be SpaceX's first deep-space mission. The satellite's final orbit will take it almost a million miles from Earth.

Launching our 1st deep space mission today. Headed to Earth-Sun L1 gravity null point at 1M miles, 4X further than moon.

Elon Musk@elonmuskFollow

Launching our 1st deep space mission today. Headed to Earth-Sun L1 gravity null point at 1M miles, 4X further than moon.

10:38 AM - 08 Feb 15ReplyRetweetFavorite

The originally scheduled launch was delayed due to a glitch in the Air Force's tracking radar. The next available window to launch is 6:07 p.m. ET Monday.

Air Force tracking radar went down. Launch postponed to same time tomorrow.

Elon Musk@elonmuskFollow

Air Force tracking radar went down. Launch postponed to same time tomorrow.

1:13 PM - 08 Feb 15ReplyRetweetFavorite

Prob good though. Will give us time to replace 1st stage video transmitter (not needed for launch, but nice to have).

Elon Musk@elonmuskFollow

Prob good though. Will give us time to replace 1st stage video transmitter (not needed for launch, but nice to have).

3:17 PM - 08 Feb 15ReplyRetweetFavorite

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the satellite will allow scientists to monitor solar storms that have the potential to disrupt power grids, communications systems, and GPS.

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The satellite will replace an aging NASA craft, and officials hope it will be able to provide a warning of between 15 minutes to an hour before dangerous particles reach Earth.

"Our national security and economic well-being, which depend on advanced technologies, are at risk without these advanced warnings," NOAA said.

DSCOVR will watch the sun, but it originally was imagined as a way to keep an eye on the Earth by then-Vice President Al Gore.

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Sometimes derisively called "GoreSat" by political opponents, the vice president hoped for a satellite that could provide inspirational images of the Earth, the New York Times reported. NASA also added instruments to measure global warming as well as measure activity on the sun.

The project was shelved in 2001, when Gore left office. After coming out of storage and a $93 million refurbishment, it's ready to finally lift off.

"It's been a long wait," Gore told the Times.

The mission will also be another chance for SpaceX to attempt to land its rocket as it hurtles back to Earth after dropping off its cargo.

Rocket reentry will be much tougher this time around due to deep space mission. Almost 2X force and 4X heat. Plenty of hydraulic fluid tho.

Elon Musk@elonmuskFollow

Rocket reentry will be much tougher this time around due to deep space mission. Almost 2X force and 4X heat. Plenty of hydraulic fluid tho.

11:43 AM - 08 Feb 15ReplyRetweetFavorite

A previous attempt to land a returning rocket onto a barge in the ocean resulted in a stunning crash.

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If the company can stick the landing, however, it'll be a step toward reusable rockets. And that, SpaceX says, could be the sort of cost savings necessary to make space flight as commonplace as getting on a commercial airliner.

Claudia Koerner is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Claudia Koerner at claudia.koerner@buzzfeed.com.

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