NASA: Rocket probably in ocean after failed launch
Declines to release the full accident report, citing sensitive and
Rat is smelled over the suspicious nature of launch failures, secrecy.
By JESSICA GRESKO
Mar 4, 8:46 AM EST
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A rocket carrying an Earth-observation satellite is
in the Pacific Ocean after a failed launch attempt, NASA officials said
The Taurus XL rocket carrying NASA's Glory satellite lifted off around
2:10 a.m. PST from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
During a news conference Friday officials explained that a protective
shell or fairing atop the rocket did not separate from the satellite as
it should have about three minutes after the launch. That left the Glory
spacecraft without the velocity to reach orbit.
NASA suffered a similar mishap two years ago when a satellite that would
have studied global warming crashed into the ocean near Antarctica after
launching from the same kind of rocket that carried Glory. Officials
said Friday that Glory likely wound up landing near where the previous
"We failed to make orbit," NASA launch director Omar Baez said Friday.
"Indications are that the satellite and rocket ... is in the southern
Pacific Ocean somewhere."
Had Glory reached orbit it would have been on a three-year mission to
analyze how airborne particles affect Earth's climate. Besides
monitoring particles in the atmosphere, it would also have tracked solar
radiation to determine the sun's effect on climate change.
Glory was supposed to study tiny atmospheric particles known as
aerosols, which reflect and trap sunlight. The vast majority occurs
naturally, spewed into the atmosphere by volcanoes, forest fires and
desert storms. Aerosols can also come from manmade sources such as the
burning of fossil fuel.
The $424 million mission is managed by the NASA's Goddard Space Flight
Center in Maryland.
Friday's launch came after engineers spent more than a week
troubleshooting a glitch that led to a last-minute scrub and two years
studying what went wrong with the 2009 mission that also crashed.
An accident board was formed to investigate and corrective action was
taken to prevent future problems. A duplicate is now scheduled to fly
from Vandenberg in 2013.
Investigators spent several months testing hardware, interviewing
engineers and reviewing data and documents. The probe did not find
evidence of widespread testing negligence or management shortcomings,
but NASA declined to release the full accident report, citing sensitive
and proprietary information.
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