The OCO launches on board a Taurus booster from Vandenberg Air Force Base (NASA TV)

Orbiting Carbon Observatory Launch Failure

Article Updated: 24 Dec , 2015

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[/caption]This morning (Tuesday), shortly after 2am PST (10am GMT), the launch of Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) mission resulted in failure. According to reports from NASA, a “launch contingency” was declared shortly after the Taurus rocket upper stage finished firing T+12 minutes, 30 seconds into the flight. The rocket nose cone fairing failed to separate as expected, therefore the satellite could not be released. Further news is pending, but it appears that the failed Taurus XL upper stage plus OCO satellite remains in orbit. The OCO mission is declared lost…

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) was launched by a Taurus XL rocket at 1:55:30 am PST from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base, set for a polar orbit at an altitude of 438 miles (704 km) to begin an important and detailed study into the carbon dioxide content of our atmosphere. The satellite was designed to provide NASA with an insight to the sources of human and natural carbon emissions, as well as pin-pointing our planet’s carbon “sinks”. Unfortunately, the opportunity to gather valuable data with this about the global impact of carbon emissions with the advanced OCO mission has been lost.

At 2:16 am (PST), NASA launch commentator George Diller confirmed that a launch contingency had been implemented:

This is Taurus launch control. It appears that we have had a launch contingency. We don’t have the exact nature of the loss of mission, but NASA launch director Chuck Dovale has directed that the launch contingency plan be implemented. We will try to bring you any additional information as soon as we have it.” — Chuck Dovale (courtesy of Spaceflight Now)

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory (NASA)

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory (NASA)

A few minutes later, Diller went into some more detail about the failure to get the OCO into orbit. The casing (or fairing) failed to separated successfully, trapping the satellite inside the Taurus XL upper stage. NASA scientists continued to ascertain what condition the spacecraft was in, but any hopes of a successful outcome to the contingency were dashed when Diller said, “Right now, we do know that we have not had a successful launch tonight and will not be able to have a successful OCO mission.”

A terribly sad night for NASA and a terrible set-back to efforts to understand the full impact of human activity on the Earth’s atmosphere.

Special thanks to @govertschilling and @Zurack for their help with notifying me of the situation and forwarding me links via Twitter.

Source: Spaceflight Now


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Sofia
Guest
Sofia
February 24, 2009 4:38 AM

It’s a pitty…

C. Emisions
Guest
C. Emisions
February 24, 2009 4:46 AM

Absolutely typical stuff-up. Not only has the mission failed, NASA adds yet again to the space junk orbiting the Earth.
Oh well, usefully confirms the common position of many Americans that global warming and climate change is a myth. Sure it wasn’t deliberate – especially with the economic disaster the U.S. has inflicted on the rest of the world?
OCO was well named, methinks. Reminds me of the desert North American OCOTILLO plant with its spiny dead sticks – sometimes also known as Jacob’s staff. Like this now ex-craft – ocotillo is also like this plant – cactus.

Salacious B. Crumb
Guest
Salacious B. Crumb
February 24, 2009 4:57 AM

Just another grand contribution of the American space program – more junk place in orbit.
As for the statement; “…terrible set-back to efforts to understand the full impact of human activity on the Earth’s atmosphere.”
With the U.S. consuming 40% of the world’s resources for almost the entire 20th Century, and contributing so much to the climate change and global warming we suffer today, I’d think the U.S. Government, and much of the citizenry, will be dancing with joy. At least they will have a little more time before they have to do something about it. Climate change deniers will be popping the bubbly champagne tonight!

PiD
Guest
PiD
February 24, 2009 4:59 AM

So, can they send a shuttle mission up to knock the cone off it and then send it on it’s way??

Maugrim
Guest
Maugrim
February 24, 2009 5:14 AM

@ C. Emisions – Heh. I was expecting to see global warming deniers claiming that scientists deliberately sabotaged the mission to “prevent the lack of evidence coming to light”. Instead I see someone on the supposedly sane side of the argument claiming that it was sabotaged by the deniers.

Please, let’s leave the conspiracy theories to the cranks, shall we?

Spoodle58
Member
February 24, 2009 5:27 AM

Salacious B. Crumb says:
Climate change deniers will be popping the bubbly champagne tonight!

I was hoping this mission would provide some evidence either way and enlightening us all on the matter.

andy
Guest
andy
February 24, 2009 7:07 AM

I’m not sure I fully understand the report. Is there a nose cone in orbit with an undamaged satellite inside it?

Zvezdichko
Member
February 24, 2009 7:39 AM

No, the rocket hasn’t reached orbit! The payload fairing is too heavy for the stage to accelerate the huge complex (acceleration was expected if everything was nominal).

Al
Member
Al
February 24, 2009 8:48 AM

It landed off of Antarctica’s coast. It’s a shame though, because I think it would have given us some really interesting and useful information.

tomster42
Member
tomster42
February 24, 2009 9:48 AM

Al… you’re ruining the anti-American/NASA atmosphere with facts.
I’ll get it back on track… Damn it! NASA is adding space junk to orbit! Any weasel can get a multi-ton satellite into orbit. If only the USA used metric and stuck extra an letter “u” into words everything’d be perfect.

Ric101
Member
Ric101
February 24, 2009 10:08 AM
It is amazing to me, how much poeple are willing to condem and give opinions to something they have no clue about. That mission was backed up by many nations. America is the leading space exploration country, but before you accuse America of all this….remember other countries ride on the ‘coat tails’ and have also contribute to the junk…and the failures. It is not only America, but the whole world to blame. Just remember, there is a dragon that has been awaken…China…and spoiling the resources is the last thing on their mind. For instance, buy a simply gas can in America, and you pay extra for the anti-emission controls on it. Yet anywheres else in the world a… Read more »
craig
Guest
craig
February 24, 2009 10:11 AM

OK, so I’m a stupid, wasteful, greedy AMERICAN! BFD, that doesn’t mean the rest of ya’ll should have such an issue against bathing. As many times as we’ve bailed SOOOO many of you out over history, all there is today is finger pointing. Step up and repay a well overdue debt. Who’s selfish, huh? Idiots like Crumb.

BeenThere
Guest
BeenThere
February 24, 2009 10:21 AM
jkw, you are full of more hot air than the warmers. Orbital tossed two spacecraft I personally worked on into the North Pacific years ago. It was NOT through negligence, or a pact with “deniers”. Rather, their zeal to meet the government’s cry of “faster-better- cheaper” was to blame. They did exactly what the government wanted. Want to vent, send some email to Dan Golden for foisting that triumvirate call on NASA and the rest of the industry. Engineering’s response in the industry was: “Faster, Better, Cheaper — pick any two” because that’s all you’re going to get. Note: I, too, wanted to see mission success — not to prove AGW, but to disprove it. Wake up dude,… Read more »
NYC Architect
Guest
NYC Architect
February 24, 2009 12:04 PM

I think the most useful information gleaned from this is that Orbital Sciences Corporation should be ditched as a contractor- they are now at a 75% success rate.

Sili
Member
Sili
February 24, 2009 2:08 PM

Just imagine that I’ve typed out a long stream of invective here. I don’t think my choice of words would be accepted on this blog.

No, not directed at anyone in particular. Just general frustration when good science is ruined. By chance rather than politicos this time.

Salacious B. Crumb
Guest
Salacious B. Crumb
February 24, 2009 6:35 PM

I just love the reaction to others who others they disagree with, then label them as crackpots, etc., etc. The negative (invective, if you must) views are sometimes closer to the truth than you think.
If you think I’m anti-American – then perhaps you should should look at the “pinkos” at the New York Times. Clearly people might like to read this article “NASA Office Is Criticized on Climate Reports”
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/03/science/earth/03nasa.html?_r=1&ref=science
I think C. Emisions and my own early comment might, in some ways, may have hit the target.

RetardedFishFrog
Guest
RetardedFishFrog
February 24, 2009 6:54 PM

Crumb – I’ve seen you get a pass from the Americans on this site for too long. I don’t know if it’s out of politeness or graciousness or a belief in free speech, or maybe no one thinks it’s worth wasting their time to respond to you. Please stop. Your anti-American rants make you look like an idiot, and it distracts from the topic.

Salacious B. Crumb
Guest
Salacious B. Crumb
February 24, 2009 11:44 PM
RetardedFishFrog Said: February 24th, 2009 at 6:54 pm “Crumb – I’ve seen you get a pass from the Americans on this site for too long. I don’t know if it’s out of politeness or graciousness or a belief in free speech, or maybe no one thinks it’s worth wasting their time to respond to you. Please stop. Your anti-American rants make you look like an idiot, and it distracts from the topic.” Thanks again for your usual and rather uninformed comments. Clearly you have little understanding of the history of internal political issues with NASA and climate change. If you understood the politics between NASA and the U.S. Government, you might have a clue on what I’m talking… Read more »
RVictorAnalysis
Guest
RVictorAnalysis
February 25, 2009 2:09 AM

Funny – Boss of shield design team: “I need to see you in my office ASAP… Thanks for coming up. BTW… you’re fired!”

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