After 17 years of waiting for his late night dream to come to fruition, former Vice President of the United States Al Gore is going to have to wait a little longer to see his satellite launched into space. A US Air Force ground radar malfunction delayed SpaceX's launch of the 1,250-pound satellite nicknamed "GoreSat" this weekend, however, in spite of planning a relaunch this morning, the rocket company decided to delay another 24 hours due to weather concerns at its Florida launch site.
"Weather for an attempt on Monday, Feb. 9, is unfavorable. If that attempt were to scrub for weather, we would lose either the Tuesday or Wednesday launch opportunity due to crew rest requirements for the Air Force" the SpaceX launch team said in a news release this morning. "Teams will target launch on Tuesday with a backup of Wednesday, as weather is more favorable on both of those days."
"While it is not required for flight, SpaceX will leverage the extra time to replace a video transmitter on the first stage in advance of the next attempt."
The satellite, officially named the Deep Space Climate Observatory (Dscovr), will be leaving from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida aboard a Falcon 9 rocket built by SpaceX. On its way to Lagrangian Point 1, a spot nearly a million miles away in between the Earth and Sun, Dscovr will reach its destination in an estimated 110 days and will begin transmitting data as soon as it arrives. The primary objective of the mission is to gather information about oncoming solar storms, bursts of high-energy particles from the sun, and warn power companies here on Earth before the electrical currents arrive. While the particles are often innocuous, large solar storms are capable of inducing electrical currents that can overwhelm power grids, potentially even causing continent-wide blackouts around the world.
"What it's doing is ensuring we have that measurement" solar physicist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Douglas A. Biesecker says. "It's such a critical measure for us to make."
Originally conceived in February 1998, after a long sleepless night, Gore named the project "Triana" and believed that placing high-quality camera in space would prove to be an invaluable resource of knowledge about the Earth. Inspired by the "Blue Marble" photograph taken by Apollo 17 astronauts in 1972, Gore hoped that the orbital view of the Earth may again reveal a new perspective of our very own planet.
"It's been 43 years since anyone has been far enough out in space to take such a photograph" Gore says. "That's when I began thinking about how we could get others that would be equally inspiring."
"It's been a long wait."