A Bad Day for NASA, Orbital Sciences and the Climate

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NASA global warming satellite crashes after launch
Associated Press

A NASA mission to monitor global warming from space ended Tuesday when a satellite plunged into the ocean near Antarctica minutes after launch. An equipment malfunction was apparently to blame, officials said. The loss of the $280 million mission came a month after Japan launched the world’s first spacecraft to track global warming emissions.

The failure dealt a blow to NASA, which had hoped to send up its own satellite to measure carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas behind human-caused global warming.

The crash came just after liftoff from the Vandenberg Air Force Base on California’s central coast. A Taurus XL rocket carrying the Orbiting Carbon Observatory blasted off as scheduled shortly before 2 a.m.

Three minutes into the flight, the nose cone protecting the satellite failed to come off as designed, NASA officials said. The extra weight from the cover caused the rocket to dive back to Earth, splashing into the ocean near Antarctica, where a group of environment ministers from more than a dozen countries met Monday to get the latest science on global warming.

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