All hail the age of reusable rockets and more efficient space travel.
With this mission, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will deliver the Jason-3
satellite to low-Earth orbit for the U.S. National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Aeronautics and
Space Administration (NASA), French space agency Centre
National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) and the European
Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites
The Jason-3 launch is targeted for a 10:42am PT launch on January
17, 2016 from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force
Base, California. If all goes as planned, the Jason-3 satellite will be
deployed approximately an hour after launch. There is a back-up
launch opportunity on January 18 at 10:31am PT.
This mission also marks an experimental landing of the first stage on the SpaceX drone ship “Just Read
the Instructions”. The landing of the first stage is a secondary test objective.
Jason-3 is the newest satellite in a series designed to maintain long-term satellite altimetry
observations of global sea surface height. These data provide critical ocean information that
forecasters need to predict devastating hurricanes and severe weather before they arrive onshore.
Over the long term, Jason-3 will help track global sea level rise, an increasing threat to the resilience
of coastal communities and to the health of our environment.
Jason-3’s highly accurate altimetry measurements will be used for a variety of scientific, commercial
and operational applications, including:
Hurricane intensity forecasting
Surface wave forecasting for offshore operators
Forecasting tides and currents for commercial shipping and ship routing
Coastal forecasting for response to environmental problems like oil spills and harmful algal
Coastal modeling crucial for marine mammal and coral reef research
El Niño and La Niña forecasting
Jason-3 is the fourth mission in a U.S.-European series of satellite missions that measure the height
of the ocean surface. The mission will extend the time series of ocean surface topography
measurements (the hills and valleys of the ocean surface) begun by the TOPEX/Poseidon satellite
mission in 1992 and continuing through Jason-1 (launched in 2001) and the currently operating
OSTM/Jason-2 (launched in 2008) missions. These measurements provide scientists with critical
information about circulation patterns in the ocean and about both global and regional changes in
sea level and the climate implications of a warming world.
[Update postponed until 4.14.15 at 4:10pm EST]
One of the major research being sent on the Dragon capsule is synthetic muscle tissue that can regenerate in robotics. At T-Minus 10 minutes, all systems are autonomous, auto sequence has started. You cannot hold within T-Minus 10 seconds.
Science payloads will study new ways to possibly counteract the microgravity-induced cell damage seen during spaceflight, the effects of microgravity on the most common cells in bones, gather new insight that could lead to treatments for osteoporosis and muscle wasting conditions, continue studies into astronaut vision changes and test a new material that could one day be used as a synthetic muscle for robotics explorers of the future. Also making the trip will be a new espresso machine for space station crews. After five weeks at the space station, the spacecraft will return with more than 3,000 pounds of cargo, including crew supplies, hardware and computer resources, science experiments, space station hardware, and trash.
With 2:39 seconds, the weather reared it’s ugly head. They are calling for relaunch tomorrow at 4:10pm EST but there’s a 50% chance of rain.
Update: We have liftoff!
The Dragon capsule launch was a success, but the landing of the Falcon9 on barge was not. No one said it was going to be easy. Remember- it’s never been done before. The more you launch and land the more data you have to figure out how to successfully pull it off time and time again. Reusable rockets are the key to getting off the planet. It would bring down the cost of going to the moon and setting up a base. Beyond the moon is where you would see even more savings. Going to Mars and the outer planets and starting colonization becomes more feasible.
— Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) April 14, 2015
Per NASA, “DSCOVR is a partnership between NOAA, NASA and the U.S. Air Force. DSCOVR will maintain the nation’s solar wind observations, which are critical to the accuracy and lead time of NOAA’s space weather alerts, forecasts, and warnings. Space weather events like geomagnetic storms, caused by changes in solar wind, can affect public infrastructure systems such as power grids, telecommunications systems, and aircraft avionics. DSCOVR will succeed NASA’s Advanced Composition Explorer in supporting solar observations and provide 15 to 60 minute warning time to improve predictions of geomagnetic storm impact locations.”