The DSCOVR spacecraft is next on deck to launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida tomorrow evening, aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The Falcon 9 will be making its most distant payload delivery to date, as DSCOVR is slated to fly to the Sun-Earth L1 point.
DSCOVR stands for Deep Space Climate ObserVatoRy, and its been in development hell since 1998, when it was first proposed by then-Vice President Al Gore as “Triana”. Gore’s concept was of a 24/7 live full-disk image of the sunlit Earth to inspire the public as to the value of our little blue marble while also monitoring space weather from this ideal vantage point, and shortly after George W Bush took office, the mission was put on hold, ostensibly due to a lack of peer review in the proposal process. It had already been built by then, thought with the 24/7 streaming video of Earth part largely deleted due to inadequate bandwidth, but the hold yanked it off of the Space Shuttle that was due to launch it. It would have been a payload on STS-107, the ill-fated final flight of Columbia. It went into storage until 2008, when NASA identified it as a potential replacement for the ACE spacecraft already at L1, which is getting old and beginning to fail. And tomorrow, as DSCOVR, it will finally fly.
Here’s hoping for a smooth launch. 😉 Liftoff is scheduled for 6:10:12 p.m. EST, or 5:10:12 PM CST, or 2310:12.