CO2 monitoring satellite fails to reach orbit

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NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory and its Taurus booster lift off from Vandenberg Air Force Base (Image credit: Orbital Sciences Corporation)

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February 25, 2009 In bad news for NASA (and the planet in general), the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) satellite did not reach orbit yesterday. According to a launch contingency briefing from NASA, the Taurus XL from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base at 4:55 a.m. EST proceeded normally, with only typical "minor issues" reported as the rocket approached lift-off, but preliminary indications are that the fairing on the Taurus XL launch vehicle failed to separate as planned.

The spacecraft is believed to have landed in the ocean near Antarctica, said John Brunschwyler, the program manager for the Taurus XL.

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory’s mission was to collect precise global measurements of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth's atmosphere to improve our understanding of the natural processes and human activities that regulate its abundance and distribution.

A Mishap Investigation Board is to determine the cause of the launch failure.

See NASA to view the full OCO Launch Contingency Briefing video.

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