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First Ever DoD-Procured SpaceX Launch Vehicle Successfully Puts NOAA Mission on Sun Trajectory

A Falcon 9 rocket carrying NASA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory -- known as the DSCOVR mission -- launches from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Feb. 11. (Photo/SpaceX)

A Falcon 9 rocket carrying NASA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory -- known as the DSCOVR mission -- launches from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Feb. 11. (Photo/SpaceX)

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 Feb. 11, 2015, at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. (Photo/SpaceX)

A Falcon 9 rocket carrying NASA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory -- known as the DSCOVR mission launches from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Feb. 11. (Photo/SpaceX)

The SMC Falcon 9 / DSCOVR Launch Team is pictured (left to right): Lt. Kevin Steuterman, Capt. Eric Bunnel, Col. Jason Cothern, Sandra McIntosh, Dan Hauck, Matt Kanter, Lt. Col. Jeff Wiemeri, Capt. Oba Vincent, Capt. Dan Tillier, Shelley Guard, Ron Miller, Will Emmer and Col. Kent Nickle

The SMC Falcon 9 / DSCOVR Launch Team is pictured (left to right): Lt. Kevin Steuterman, Capt. Eric Bunnel, Col. Jason Cothern, Sandra McIntosh, Dan Hauck, Matt Kanter, Lt. Col. Jeff Wiemeri, Capt. Oba Vincent, Capt. Dan Tillier, Shelley Guard, Ron Miller, Will Emmer and Col. Kent Nickle

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) spacecraft roared into orbit from Cape Canaveral AFS, Feb. 11. This was a joint mission between NASA, NOAA and the U.S. Air Force, and marks the first deep space mission for Falcon 9. The vehicle successfully delivered the DSCOVR payload to its targeted orbit and the satellite will spend more than 100 days traveling to its position at the Sun-Earth L1 Lagrange point. There it will perform a space weather warning mission for NOAA and an Earth science mission for NASA.

The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center procured the rocket and executed the launch under the Orbital/Suborbital Program-3 (OSP-3) contract. This was the first Falcon 9 mission acquired by the Department of Defense and provides valuable experience for potential future launches of national security payloads by SpaceX, as will the 2016 Falcon Heavy also procured under the OSP-3 contract. 

 "On-ramping a new launch vehicle provider is a major accomplishment and will help drive competition in the launch market, with the goal of driving down access-to-space costs for the U.S. government," said Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves, SMC commander

Although not an EELV certification mission, through multiple reviews, the SMC Falcon 9 / DSCOVR team worked with SpaceX to meet mission assurance and Air Force Space Command flight worthiness standards for this mission.  The SMC team coordinated the efforts of SpaceX, NASA, NOAA, and Air Force 45th Space Wing to ensure all parties met requirements from contract award through launch vehicle build, shipment to the launch site, launch site preparations and launch execution.