SpaceX launches observatory on 3rd try, nixes landing test

ByMARCIA DUNN AP Aerospace Writer via AP logo
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
An unmanned Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket lifts off from launch complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- SpaceX has launched an observatory inspired by former Vice President Al Gore toward a solar-storm lookout point a million miles away.

The unmanned Falcon rocket blasted off Wednesday from Cape Canaveral, Florida. It was the company's third try to launch the Deep Space Climate Observatory for NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Air Force. Gore returned for the sunset liftoff.

This time, the wind stayed within safety limits. But rough seas forced SpaceX to cancel its effort to land the leftover booster on an ocean platform. Last month's demo ended in flames.

The observatory, called DSCOVR (pronounced discover), will provide advance warnings of incoming geomagnetic storms as well as continuous Earth views. It's the reincarnated form of a satellite dreamed up by Gore 17 years ago.