VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) - A NASA satellite
designed to track carbon dioxide emissions worldwide failed to
reach orbit today in a mishap that could jeopardize 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 cover -- called a fairing --
failed to separate from the launch vehicle. The fairing protects
the payload as the launch vehicle flies through the atmosphere.
The carbon observatory is part of a $280 million mission. It's
NASA's first satellite dedicated to monitoring carbon dioxide on a