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February 24, 2009

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NASA launched a satellite yesterday designed to monitor levels of atmospheric CO2 in far more detail and depth than ever before. Scientists consider the data to be gathered crucial to understanding 1) how much CO2 is really there and 2) how best to mitigate climate change.

But something has gone awry. According to NASA:
NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory satellite failed to reach orbit after its 4:55 a.m. EST liftoff Feb. 24 from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Preliminary indications are that the fairing on the Taurus XL launch vehicle failed to separate. The fairing is a clamshell structure that encapsulates the satellite as it travels through the atmosphere.

The spacecraft did not reach orbit and likely landed in the Pacific Ocean near Antarctica, said John Brunschwyler, the program manager for the Taurus XL.

A Mishap Investigation Board is to determine the cause of the launch failure.
That sucks. Anybody have a spare Orbital Carbon Observatory sitting around?

Photo: NASA

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