SpaceX and NASA will make a fourth attempt at launching the company’s first deep space mission at 6:03 p.m. E.T. Wednesday, which will propel NASA and NOAA’s DSCOVR space weather satellite to an observation point four times further than the Moon.
Originally scheduled for Sunday, the launch was scrubbed after the Air Force’s radar tracking system malfunctioned, and again on Monday and Tuesday for bad weather conditions and high upper-atmospheric winds.
The returning Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage was also scheduled to made SpaceX’s second attempt at landing vertically on a platform at sea, but the recovery attempt has been aborted due to three-story swells in the Atlantic and a malfunctioning engine in the sea drone landing platform. The rocket will instead perform a soft vertical descent and splashdown.
The rocket will launch NASA’s new Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite to Lagrange point 1 (L1), a stable point between the gravitational pull of the Earth and the Sun about one million miles away. DSCOVR will observe solar winds and track space weather for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from L1 for 110 days.
According to NASA, ”NOAA’s DSCOVR will give forecasters more reliable measurements of solar wind speed, density, and temperature, improving their ability to monitor harmful solar activity, and replace an aging research satellite currently used to warn of impacts to Earth.”
SpaceX’s first Flacon 9 landing attempt failed last month after its hypersonic grid fins — which guide the rocket down after re-entry — ran just 10 percent short of the hydraulic fluid necessary for a soft landing, causing the rocket to tip and explode on the platform. (VIDEO: Watch SpaceX’s Rocket Crash And Explode During Landing)