Thursday, February 12, 2015

My best pics of #DSCOVR launch. 3rd time's a charm for @SpaceX #Falcon9

We experienced a beautiful +SpaceX launch of DSCOVR as the sun set behind us. It was my third trip to the ITL Causeway, 2nd for +Jen Kobrick (and #BabyK) and +Caley Burke. This was the 32nd launch since we moved to Florida (Sept 2012). The rocket jumped off the pad, gave a booming crackle, and had a long flight in perfect view on a clear evening. The most amazing part was seeing the first stage re-light just above the Delta IV launchpad in the far distance as SpaceX was practicing their landing maneuver out in open water, a critical step in rocket reusability (mostly to reuse the 9 engines). The seas were rough, so they didn't attempt to land on the autonomous spaceport drone ship (barge) newly named "Just Read the Instructions" as a sci-fi tribute. As per usual, I like to retell the story with photos:

Feb 8 - Scrub #1 - The plan: a romantic kiss on date night with the launch behind us.  But a squishy nose scrub kiss is just as good.
We were at the SpaceX reception (scrub #1) a little early, and fortunately because of that we got a quick snapshot with former Vice President Al Gore. He's probably the biggest name either of us have ever met, and we were definitely a little nervous to say hello.
Feeding frenzy just south of us right before launch. It is a wildlife reserve after all.
Awesome launch colors ~10 minutes before sunset.
Very clear skies led to very clear photos.
A long shadow is cast from the rocket contrail pointing at the sun, the scientific target of the DSCOVR mission (as well as Earth observation, shhh don't tell anyone).
A heart-shaped cloud rises over SpaceX's LC-40 launchpad as an early Valentine's Day treat.
Jen catches the sunset, but I catch her silhouette complete with Baby K bump (or normal hoodie bump in the wind, but let's call it the baby).
There is is again! That cluster of bright pixels. The Falcon 9 first stage re-lights as it attempts a landing on the stormy sea. I filtered a zoom of the tiny pixels and you can actually see the rocket stage and the angle to the left (from our vantage point) as it approaches the sea in the far distance behind the Delta IV launchpad.

The official stats:
Feb. 11 Falcon 9   •  DSCOVR
Launch time: 2303:32 GMT (6:03:32 p.m. EST)
Launch site: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the Deep Space Climate Observatory for the U.S Air Force, NOAA and NASA. DSCOVR will be positioned at the L1 libration point to monitor space weather and Earth's climate. Delayed from Jan. 13, Jan. 23, Jan. 29 and Jan. 31. Scrubbed on Feb. 8 and Feb. 10. See ourMission Status Center. [Feb. 11]


No comments:

Post a Comment