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.
SpaceX had hoped to attempt a landing of the Falcon 9's first stage on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. However, the company reported Wednesday afternoon that three-story waves and a faulty ship thruster had stymied the attempt. Nonetheless, CEO Elon Musk said the booster soft-landed in the Atlantic vertically, within 10 meters of its predicted landing spot—increasing the odds of success for future tries in better weather. Additionally, Musk said SpaceX was planning to upgrade the drone ship to handle "literally anything."
DSCOVR launch video Video: NASA