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SPACEX LAUNCHES DSCOVR SATELLITE TO DEEP SPACE ORBIT
Just before sunset at 6:03pm ET on Wednesday, Feb. 11th, Falcon 9 lifted off from SpaceX’s Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. carrying the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite on SpaceX’s first deep space mission.DSCOVR is the result of a partnership between NOAA, NASA and the United States Air Force and will be used to observe and provide advanced warning of extreme emissions from the sun which can affect power grids, communications systems, and satellites close to Earth.Falcon 9’s nine Merlin engines burned for 2 minutes and 44 seconds, shutting down as expected just prior to separation of the first and second stages. Shortly thereafter, the second stage’s Merlin Vacuum engine ignited to begin the first of two burns for a duration of approximately 1 minute.Following completion of its first burn, the second stage carrying the DSCOVR satellite coasted for the next 22 minutes. Approximately 30 minutes and 47 seconds into flight, the second stage ignited for its second burn to place the DSCOVR satellite in its parking orbit and at 35 minutes, the satellite was successfully deployed.Ultimately, DSCOVR will be positioned at the Sun-Earth L1 Lagrangian point, 1,500,000 kilometers (930,000 mi) from Earth, more than four times farther than the Moon. SpaceX delivered DSCOVR to an orbit of 187 km x 1,241,000 km at 37 degrees, and the satellite will reach its final orbit 110 days after launch. While extreme weather prevented SpaceX from attempting to recover the first stage, data shows the first stage successfully soft landed in the Atlantic Ocean within 10 meters of its target. The vehicle was nicely vertical and the data captured during this test suggests a high probability of being able to land the stage on the drone ship in better weather.