Breaking News: SpaceX Set to Launch NASA’s PACE Ocean-Monitoring Satellite This Week

A NASA satellite is about to take flight to map the ocean’s various colors.

NASA’s PACE spacecraft, which will assist scientists in assessing the condition of the world’s oceans, is scheduled to launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Tuesday (Feb. 6) at 1:33 a.m. EST.

You may watch the launch live on, courtesy of NASA, or straight from the agency. Coverage will start at 12:45 a.m. EST (05:45 GMT).

The Falcon 9 will launch PACE, which stands for Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, and Ocean Ecosystem, into an orbit 420 miles (677 kilometers) above Earth, or 70% higher than the International Space Station.

From that vantage point, PACE will utilize its three research instruments “to collect data on clouds, aerosols, and phytoplankton growth that can determine ocean color,” NASA officials stated in a mission update on Thursday (February 1).

Breaking News: SpaceX Set to Launch NASA's PACE Ocean-Monitoring Satellite This Week

“Measuring the color and amount of light will help scientists better understand the types and locations of microscopic algae, which are vital to the health of Earth’s oceans and its marine life,” the researchers said. “PACE will contribute to NASA’s more than 20 years of global satellite observations of ocean biology and key measurements related to air quality and climate.”

If all goes as planned, the 10.5-foot (3.2-meter) PACE will be able to complete this task for at least three years.

PACE has had a long and perhaps arduous journey to the launch pad. The Trump administration attempted to cancel the mission three times, in its budget requests for fiscal years 2018, 2019, and 2020. However, Congress provided the necessary cash on each occasion, sparing PACE from the chopping block.

NASA set a total cost of $805 million for PACE (including the launch vehicle) in 2014, with a 2022 launch date. However, the price has risen to $948 million, according to Florida Today.

PACE’s launch is part of a hectic year for SpaceX. According to Elon Musk, the business launched ten orbital flights in January, setting a monthly record. And this astonishing pace could accelerate even more: SpaceX plans to fly 144 flights by 2024, according to company representatives.

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