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Oh NASA

Posted by feww on February 24, 2009

NASA Still Believes You Need a Rocket Scientist to Launch a Satellite into Orbit!

NASA’s mission to measure carbon dioxide from space fails as the $300 million satellite dives into Antarctica.


NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory and its Taurus booster lift off from Vandenberg Air Force Base. A contingency was declared a few minutes later. Image credit: NASA TV

OCO was launched on a Taurus XL, the smallest rocket used by NASA.  XL is manufactured by Orbital Sciences Corporation and has reportedly flown eight times, with a 25 percent failure rate (two failures including the OCO  launch).

In a statement released shortly after the failed launch NASA said:

NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory satellite failed to reach orbit after its 4:55 a.m. EST liftoff this morning 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 will immediately be convened to determine the cause of the launch failure.

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 European Space Agency, ESA, reconstructed its Cryosat spacecraft after it was destroyed on launch in 2006.  ESA officials recently announced that it would be launched again in late 2009.  However, the future of the OCO mission remains uncertain for now.


This is an artist’s concept of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory. The mission, scheduled to launch in early 2009, will be the first spacecraft dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide, the principal human-produced driver of climate change. It will provide the first global picture of the human and natural sources of carbon dioxide and the places where this important greenhouse gas is stored. Such information will improve global carbon cycle models as well as forecasts of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and of how our climate may change in the future. Image credit: NASA/JPL. Caption: NASA.

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One Response to “Oh NASA”

  1. […] Oh NASA […]

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