SpaceX Aims for Deep Space and Two Oceans in Less Than Two Hours

Image Credit:  S. Money

After standing down for a day to wait out bad weather at Cape Canaveral, the four organizations involved the launch of the Deep Space Climate Observatory; SpaceX, NOAA, NASA, and the Air Force, are now targeting a Tuesday (February 10th) liftoff at 6:05 PM EST.

The range is also available on Wednesday the 11th, which would necessitate a 6:03 PM liftoff.

The launch forecast calls for a 70% chance of favorable conditions, with the primary concern being high winds.

If liftoff does tale place on Tuesday, it sets the stage for a remarkable couple of hours for SpaceX, as the CRS-5 Dragon spacecraft is set to depart from the International Space Station at 2:09 PM EST.  As has been the case since the CRS-2 mission, there will be no live coverage of the descent or landing, but the departure will be aired on NASA TV beginning at 1:45 PM.

Ready to Return Image Credit : NASA

Ready to Return
Image Credit : NASA

After moving away from the Station via three short Draco thruster firings, the Dragon will begin its deorbit burn at 7:00 PM EST, with a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean occurring at approximately 7:44 PM EST, less than 2 hours after the Falcon 9 carrying DSCOVR lifts off from Cape Canaveral’s SLC-40.

While the Dragon’s return from orbit and Pacific splashdown, the company’s seventh overall, is important, it is certain to be overshadowed by the return of another piece of SpaceX hardware, this one from suborbital space.

Here, success will be defined by missing the ocean altogether. If the Falcon 9 first stage bests what SpaceX assesses as 50/50 odds and finds its way onto the deck of the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship still in one piece, what is already a looking to be a remarkable day for SpaceX, stands to become to a turning point in space history.

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