45th Space Wing supports SpaceX launch of NASA/NOAA DSCOVR mission
By 45th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 11, 2015
CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- The 45th Space Wing supported Space Exploration Technologies' (SpaceX) successful launch of their Falcon 9 launch vehicle carrying NASA's Deep Space Climate Observatory -- known as the DSCOVR mission -- at 6:03 p.m. from Launch Complex 40 here at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
The DSCOVR mission is a partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA and the U.S. Air Force, providing real-time solar wind monitoring capabilities for NOAA's space weather alerts and forecasts.
A combined team of military, government civilians and contractors from across the 45th Space Wing provided support to the mission, including weather forecasts, launch and range operations, security, safety and public affairs.
According to NOAA, DSCOVR will maintain the nation's real-time solar wind monitoring capabilities which are critical to the accuracy and lead time of NOAA's space weather alerts and forecasts.
Without timely and accurate warnings, space weather events like the geomagnetic storms caused by changes in solar wind have the potential to disrupt nearly every major public infrastructure system, including power grids, telecommunications, aviation and GPS.
DSCOVR will succeed NASA's Advanced Composition Explore's (ACE) role in supporting solar wind alerts and warnings from the L1 orbit, the neutral gravity point between the Earth and sun approximately one million miles from Earth. L1 is a good position from which to monitor the sun, because the constant stream of particles from the sun (the solar wind) reaches L1 about an hour before reaching Earth.
From this position, DSCOVR will typically be able to provide 15 to 60 minute warning time before the surge of particles and magnetic field, known as a coronal mass ejection (or CME), associated with a geomagnetic storm reaches Earth. DSCOVR data will also be used to improve predictions of geomagnetic storm impact locations, according to a NOAA posting.
The Vice Commander of the 45th Space Wing, who also served as the Launch Decision Authority for this important launch, praised the work of all those involved in making this launch a success.
"We congratulate NOAA, SpaceX and NASA on their successful launch and applaud the teamwork between Team Patrick-Cape and all our mission partners involved in making this mission a success," said Col. Shawn Fairhurst.
"The operations conducted here at Cape Canaveral impact our global population and this mission will potentially help protect critical systems around the world. This is another significant reminder of why our No. 1 priority is 100% percent mission success," he said.
"Great job Sharks!"