Space transport services company SpaceX was set to launch its Falcon 9 rocket carrying a space weather satellite on Sunday, Feb. 8, but the lift-off was called off due to technical issues with the rocket-tracking system.
The company was then supposed to launch its rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Tuesday, Feb. 10, but high winds over Florida again caused a problem, prompting the company to postpone the launch and reschedule it to 6:03 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Feb. 11.
A launch was not made on Monday due to a poor weather forecast but even before the Tuesday launch, SpaceX founder Elon Musk expressed concern over the weather.
Extreme wind shear over Cape Canaveral. Feels like a sledgehammer when supersonic in the vertical. Hoping it changes …
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 10, 2015
The postponed mission involves sending the space weather and climate research satellite Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) on trek to a neutral orbit between the sun and the Earth a million miles away from our planet.
DSCOVR was designed to provide early warnings for potentially dangerous solar storms that can negatively affect radio communications, power grids and satellite signal on Earth. It will also track volcanic plumes, monitor the sunlit side of our planet, measure ozone as well as monitor droughts, fires and flooding once it is in its final orbit.
The satellite is also equipped with a camera that will take photos of the Earth every two hours, and these images will be posted on the Internet a day after.
If the mission won't yet again make a successful launch on Wednesday, the next attempt would happen after more than a week, on Feb. 20, when the position of the moon would exert a gravitational pull on the flight that would entail more propellant to overcome, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said.
What makes the mission particularly exciting is that DSCOVR has waited 17 years to get into space. It was initially proposed by the U.S. Vice President Al Gore in 1998 to perform climate research and transmit inspiring photos of the Earth online by the year 2000. Originally called Triana, the mission encountered political opposition and reviews that eventually led to the scrubbing of the launch in 2000.
Wednesday's attempt will also be another opportunity for SpaceX to safely land the leftover booster on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean, an effort that could pave the way for reusable rockets becoming the norm in the future.