Trump Proposes Shutting off DSCOVR’s Cameras

This image shows the far side of the moon, illuminated by the sun, as it crosses between the DSCOVR spacecraft’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) camera and telescope, and the Earth – one million miles away. (Credits: NASA/NOAA)

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.

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DSCOVR Headed for L-1

Artist's rendition of NOAA's DSCOVR: Deep Space Climate Observatory. (Credit:  NOAA/NASA)
Artist’s rendition of NOAA’s DSCOVR: Deep Space Climate Observatory. (Credit:
NOAA/NASA)

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.

DSCOVR Satellite Set for Launch Sunday on Falcon 9

Artist's rendition of NOAA's DSCOVR: Deep Space Climate Observatory. (Credit:  NOAA/NASA)
Artist’s rendition of NOAA’s DSCOVR: Deep Space Climate Observatory. (Credit:
NOAA/NASA)

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.

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Shelved Triana Satellite Could Help Open Up Military Launch Market

A scientific satellite championed by Al Gore that has been grounded for eight years might finally see the light of space thanks to a military program to evaluate new rockets. Aviation Week reports:

Air Force officials are proposing in their fiscal 2012 budget plan to fund a launch of a NASA satellite to provide competition for potential new entrants to the rocket market.

The service is requesting $135 million in the fiscal 2012 budget, sent to Congress in February, to fund the competition for launching NASA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite, says Maj. Gen. John Hyten, director of space programs for the Air Force’s acquisition office. The satellite, formerly known as Triana, was proposed by former Vice President Al Gore while in office to provide a near constant stare at Earth from geosynchronous orbit as well as other scientific data. It was pulled from the ill-fated 2003 Columbia Shuttle mission and shelved thereafter during the George W. Bush administration.

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