On Wednesday evening, with the sun low on the horizon opposite Florida’s Atlantic coast, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocketed into orbit with DSCOVR, the Deep Space Climate Observatory. DSCOVR, a joint mission between NASA, NOAA and the U.S. Air Force, lifted off at 6:03 p.m. EST (23:03 UTC). The spacecraft was deposited into a parking orbit bound for Lagrangian Point 1 (L1), a gravitationally balanced spot between the Earth and sun 1.6 million kilometers away. This was SpaceX’s first mission to interplanetary space.
The DSCOVR Deep Space Climate Observatory lifts off atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Falcon 9 and DSCOVR liftoff
The DSCOVR Deep Space Climate Observatory will observe the sun, providing advance warning for geomagnetic solar storms that disrupt Earth’s power grid.
DSCOVR climbs toward space
Following a sunset launch, a SpaceX Falcon 9 carries the DSCOVR Deep Space Climate Observatory toward space.
An exhaust contrail forms behind a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket as it pushes the DSCOVR satellite toward space.
Falcon 9 splashdown
SpaceX reported three-story waves in the Atlantic Ocean, preventing an attempt to land the Falcon 9 first stage on a drone ship. However, the rocket was still guided to a controlled splashdown. Here, deployable grid fins can be seen stabilizing the vehicle just before impact.
En route to L1
An aft-facing camera captures a view of Earth as the Falcon 9 upper stage pushes DSCOVR out of low-Earth orbit toward Lagrangian Point 1 (L1).