Donald Trump’s first budget proposal terminates three NASA Earth science missions now under development: Orbiting Carbon Observatory – 3 (OCO-3), Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) Pathfinder, and the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE).
It also “terminates” the “Earth-viewing instruments” on the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) spacecraft, a joint NASA-NOAA project that monitors the Earth, the solar wind and space weather from a location 1 million miles from Earth.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket sent Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) spacecraft on its way into deep space this evening from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The launch appears to have gone flawlessly, with the spacecraft separating as scheduled and heading off to the sun-Earth L1 Lagrangian point located 1.500 million kilometers (930,000 miles) from Earth.
The mission has one of the longest gestation periods in history. Back in 1998, then Vice President Al Gore proposed NASA build an environmental satellite called Triana designed to provide nearly continuous coverage of the Earth from L-1.
Triana, which critics dubbed GoreSat, proved to be controversial. Originally set for deployment from the space shuttle in 2003, the incoming Bush Administration put the satellite in storage in 2001. It was removed for refurbishment at the behest of NOAA in 2008.
In addition to monitoring conditions on Earth, DSCOVR will monitor solar wind conditions and provide early warning of coronal mass ejections.
DSCOVR marks the first deep space mission ever flown by SpaceX. Previously, the Falcon 9 had launched communications satellites to geosynchronous orbits.
SpaceX elected not to land the Falcon 9 first stage on a barge, citing rough seas. The plan was changed to a controlled landing on the ocean.
SpaceX is back in action on Sunday evening with a Falcon 9 set to launch the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) spacecraft from Cape Canaveral at 6:10 p.m. EST. The launch will mark SpaceX’s second attempt to land a Falcon 9 first stage on an off-shore barge.