NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory launch fails

24 February 2009

A NASA satellite to track carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere failed to reach its orbit during launching Tuesday morning, scuttling the $278 million mission.

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory lifted off on schedule at 1:55 a.m. Pacific time from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California aboard a four-stage Taurus XL rocket. But three minutes later, during the burning of the third stage, the payload fairing -- a clamshell nose cone that protects the satellite as it rises through the atmosphere -- failed to separate as commanded.

NASA Investigating Orbiting Carbon Observatory failure (NASA).

Full story from New York Times.

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