Monday, February 16, 2015

DSCOVR Launches, Picture-Perfectly

SpaceX's first deep space mission was scrubbed three times due to weather, wind and radar issues. On February 11, a fourth attempt to deliver and position the DSCOVR satellite a million miles from Earth was not only successful, but breathtakingly beautiful. These pictures speak for themselves:

Image credit: SpaceX

Falcon 9 launches with its DSCOVR payload against a beautiful Cape Canaveral sunset backdrop.

 Image credit: SpaceX

Falcon 9 in flight with landing legs visible.

Image credit: SpaceX

Falcon 9 on its first deep space mission, looking back at Earth. The visible landmass is Australia.

SpaceX had planned to land the rocket's upper stage on an autonomous spaceport drone ship in the Atlantic. However, extreme stormy weather and high seas interfered, so SpaceX decided to scrub the drone ship landing. Still, we got this amazing picture as the rocket descended, showing off its grid fins in action.

Click here and scroll down for a picture of hypersonic grid fins being tested at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, CA. 

Elon Musk added that the rocket soft landed in the stormy ocean within 10 meters of the target and nicely vertical, suggesting a high probability of a good drone ship landing in non-stormy weather.

Last, but not least - this jaw-dropping launch picture taken from an airplane. I haven't been able to find an explanation for the spiral plumes near the horizon.


  1. That spiral is actually not a spiral, but caused by upper level winds blowing the exhaust trail in different directions.

  2. Thanks, Cash - that makes sense. Probably the same upper level winds intense enough that they caused a launch scrub last week.