9:17 AM PST, or 12:17 PM EST, atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenburg Air Force Base, California.
For the 100th mission of a Falcon 9 rocket, the Sentinel-6 Michael Frielich Oceanography satellite was launched in clear skies in cooperation with NASA, NOAA, ESA, and a few other agencies. The 108th mission total for the company, and the 99th launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, the work horse of the company comes just one week after the Crew-1 launch which took four astronauts to the International Space Station.
Originally slated to launch on November 10th, 2020 SpaceX delayed the flight after the GPSIII-SV04 mission was aborted two seconds before liftoff when two of the nine Merlin 1D engines failed to ignite. After investigations concluded it was determined that a nail polish like substance was blocking a relief valve in the gas generator of the engines. It took a few weeks for the two engines to be swapped out and tested, and extra time was allotted to make sure the issue was fixed before the next in the line up, Crew-1.
Named after the late NASA Earth Science division director, Michael Freilich the satellite is the latest in a series of satellites deigned to monitor changes in the Oceans to continue high precision Ocean altimetry measurements between the years 2020-2030. Sentinel-6B will be launching sometime in the year 2025 and the two will work together to perform these operations along with collecting high resolution vertical profiles of temperatures in sea states using the Global Navigation Satellite System, and Radio Occultation science instruments to asses temperature changes in the troposphere and stratosphere. You may be asking what does all this mean, basically it means it will help weather prediction models, and study the affects of the Oceans rising due to global warming. A fun fact being that once Sentinel-6 finishes it’s one year commissioning period, anyone around the world will be able to download the raw data from the website, this includes educators, students, and other members of the public.