VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) - A NASA satellite
designed to track carbon dioxide emissions worldwide failed to
reach orbit early Tuesday in a mishap that could put in jeopardy
its mission to better understand climate change.
The Taurus XL rocket carrying the Orbiting Carbon Observatory
blasted off as planned at 1:55 a.m. PST from Vandenberg Air Force
Base on California's Central Coast.
Several minutes into the flight, launch managers declared a
"contingency plan" after the payload fairing failed to separate
from the launch vehicle. The fairing protects the spacecraft as the
launch vehicle flies through the atmosphere.
"We have not had a successful launch tonight and will not be
able to have a successful OCO mission," NASA commentator George
The carbon observatory was NASA's first satellite dedicated to
monitoring carbon dioxide on a global scale. Measurements collected
from the $280 million mission were expected to improve climate
models and help researchers determine where the greenhouse gas is
coming from and how much is being absorbed by forests and oceans.
Last month, Japan successfully launched the world's first
satellite to monitor global warming emissions.