SpaceX Calls Off DSCOVR Launch Due To Radar Tracking Issues

SpaceX Rocket Launch Elon Musk
Image Credit: SpaceX-Imagery / Pixabay

DSCOVR is a satellite that can monitor solar storms and provide complete Earth imagery

SpaceX has called off the scheduled launch of the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) after engineers detected a recurring problem with the Air Force’s radar tracking system. The next launch opportunity comes at 6:07 p.m. ET on Monday, when there will be 40% chance of favorable weather. Radar tracking is an important part of a space launch because scientists need to be able to destroy it in case the rocket goes off course during ascent.

DSCOVR was first suggested by Al Gore

SpaceX founder Elon Musk said that his team was also facing issues that affected a transmitter on the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket. Countdown for the mission was halted at 2½-minute mark at Cape Canaveral on Sunday. DSCOVR is a satellite that can monitor solar storms and provide complete Earth imagery. Its main objective is to monitor solar outbursts. The project is jointly funded by the Air Force, NASA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).


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It will help measure global warming and mobilize the public to put pressure on the world’s governments to take action to save the planet, said former Vice-President Al Gore. The mission was first suggested by Al Gore in 1998. The $340 million mission will alert us about the intense solar activity that can disrupt power, air travel and communications.

SpaceX’s next attempt to land the first stage of Falcon 9

That’s why the DSCVOR will be one million miles from the Earth at the Lagrange point where the gravity fields are neutralized. The Falcon 9 rocket will boost it into a preliminary orbit, but the probe will need another 110 days of in-space maneuvers to reach the right position. A secondary objective of the mission is to land the first stage of Falcon 9 rocket on an ocean platform off the Florida coast.

Last month, SpaceX tried to land the first stage of the rocket on an ocean platform. But it ran out of hydraulic fluid that stabilizes the craft, resulting into an explosion. This time, the Elon Musk-led company has loaded more hydraulic fluid into the first stage of Falcon 9. If successful, the maneuvers will help the company reuse rockets, significantly reducing the cost of the future rocket launches.