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article imageNASA satellite launched this morning fails to reach orbit

By Igor I. Solar     Mar 4, 2011 in Technology
Washington - According to a NASA official, the Glory Earth observation satellite failed to reach orbit because the top fairing of the booster rocket failed to open after launch.
The satellite is designed to measure aerosol gases in Earth's atmosphere to help scientists understand their impact on climate.
The launch was scheduled for this morning (March 4, 2011) at at 2:09:43 a.m. PST (5:09:43 a.m. EST) from U.S. Air Force Vandenberg base (California). A previous launch was postponed on Feb. 23.; it was stopped 15 minutes before take-off because of unexpected readings in the interface with ground control.
"The protective shell atop the Taurus XL rocket, did not separate as expected about three minutes after launch," said launch director Omar Baez. "There is no indication of why it did not separate."
The Glory cost $424 million and weighed just over 500 kilos. It was two meters high and 1.4 metres wide. The satellite had to be placed in orbit 705 kilometres above Earth's surface and from that position, using two scientific instruments, it was to study variations in solar radiation on the planet. It was also going to look at the effect aerosols, suspended particles in the atmosphere, have on climate.
Two years ago, in Feb. 2009, a similar rocket called Taurus XL was lost. It was made by Orbital Science Corporation, a private company, for NASA's climate research program.
This time around it was the OCO satellite (Orbiting Carbon Observatory) and it failed for the same reason: The top of the rocket did not open, preventing the satellite from reaching its correct position in orbit.
The OCO was destroyed.
More about NASA, Satellite, Climate change, Glory, Taurus XL rocket
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