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No Space for OCO

Taurus launches OCO Feb. 24th , 2009

Taurus launches OCO Feb. 24th , 2009

NASA‘s Orbiting Carbon Observatory satellite aboard a Taurus XL launch vehicle, failed to reach orbit after its 4:55 a.m. EST liftoff Feb. 24 from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base. As many of you know I spent many years of my career at NASA, and once NASA, always NASA, so I have seen my share of heartbreaking, tragic, disasters. In NASA terms, this launch failure is known as a ‘setback’. And that’s all it is. Or as my 15 year old nephew would say, “Ah Man, that really sucks”.

Preliminary indications are that the fairing on the Taurus XL failed to separate. Resulting in the spacecraft not having enough lift to reach orbit and likely landed in the ocean near Antarctica. The fairing is a clamshell structure that encapsulates the satellite, which shields the spacecraft during launch and atmospheric ascent. A Mishap Investigation Board is to determine the cause of the launch failure.

Back on January 27th, Forcedgreen posted on this satellite’s mission to map the global distribution of carbon dioxide and study how it changes over time. So, it is a great disappointment to all us tree huggers. But, again it’s just a setback.

Michael Freilich, the director of NASA’s science division, said it was unclear how long it might take to field a replacement for the OCO, which took eight years to develop.

296150main_2-226But, worry not green friends because even though it was NASA’s first spacecraft dedicated to studying carbon dioxide, it was not the first in orbit: on January 23 Japan launched the world’s first satellite dedicated to monitoring greenhouse gas emissions. The Japanese mission will help scientists measure the density of carbon dioxide and methane from almost the entire surface of the Earth, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said.

A Japanese-made H-2A rocket carrying the Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite (GOSAT) blasted off from Tanegashima, a small island in southern Japan. The satellite is collecting data from 56,000 locations around the world, a dramatic increase from the 282 observation points available as of last October. Japan hopes the mission will provide governments with useful data as they come under pressure to meet their 2008-2012 Kyoto Protocol goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

It’s a sad day for NASA but thanks to Japan it is not a total loss!

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No Responses to “No Space for OCO”

  1. wilson Says:

    Like you’ve said, Linda. “Life isn’t going to be easy all the time”!

    By the way, I loved the pic where the rocket is blasting away…

    wilsons last blog post..Maintain Your Cholesterol in Healthy Level!

  2. Linda Says:

    Hi Wilson … That is the actual picture of the rocket carrying the OCO blasting off into space. Cool picture, I might say. It just did not make it. 🙁

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