SpaceX DSCOVR launch postponed due to radar glitch; Monday launch likely

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SpaceX has postponed its latest Falcon 9 rocket launch that was to bring NASA’s US weather satellite dubbed DSCOVR (Deep Space Climate Observatory) into deep space. The launch was called off just minutes before liftoff owing to a problem with US Air Force’s Eastern Range radar, which the company says is necessary for launch.

“The launch of NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was scrubbed for Sunday, Feb. 8 due to loss of the Air Force’s Eastern Range radar, which is required for launch”, read the official press note.

The liftoff was called up about 2.5 minutes prior to the scheduled launch. The next opportunity to launch is 6:07 p.m. EST (2307 GMT) on Monday, said NASA launch commentator Michael Curie.

“We think of DSCOVR as a weather buoy,” NOAA administrator and former astronaut Kathryn Sullivan said during a NASA launch webcast. “It senses first the blasts of solar wind and embedded magnetic fields that are potentially going to wreak some havoc.”

DSCOVR, once launched, will stay in orbit between the Earth and the Sun and will provide early warning of potential dangerous solar winds, which can affect major public infrastructure like power grids, telecommunications, aviation and GPS. DSCOVR, a partnership of NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will replace a 17-year-old satellite monitoring for potentially dangerous solar storms.

After the launch of the satellite, SpaceX will be having a second go at attempting a soft landing of its first stage of Falcon 9 rocket on a barge in the Atlantic Ocean.

Previous attempt in January didn’t go as planned as the rocket crash landed on the drone barge. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk had jokingly said that the time that the landing was a “rapid unscheduled disassembly.”

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