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Fri, Mar 04, 2011

Glory Satellite Fails To Reach Orbit

NASA Will Open An Investigation Into Its Second Taurus XL Launch Failure 

NASA's Glory mission launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California Friday at 0509 EST failed to reach orbit.

Telemetry indicated the fairing, the protective shell atop the Taurus XL rocket, did not separate as expected about three minutes after launch. The space agency has begun the process of creating a Mishap Investigation Board to evaluate the cause of the failure.

The launch proceeded as planned from its liftoff through the ignition of the Taurus XL's second stage. However, the fairing failure occurred during the second stage engine burn. It is likely the spacecraft fell into the South Pacific, although the exact location is not yet known.

NASA's previous launch attempt of an Earth science spacecraft, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory onboard a Taurus XL on Feb. 24, 2009, also failed to reach orbit when the fairing did not separate.

NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory Mishap Investigation Board reviewed launch data and the fairing separation system design, and developed a corrective action plan. The plan was implemented by Taurus XL manufacturer Orbital Sciences Corporation. In October 2010, NASA's Flight Planning Board confirmed the successful closure of the corrective actions.

The Glory Earth-observing satellite was intended to improve our understanding of how the sun and tiny atmospheric particles called aerosols affect Earth's climate.

FMI: www.nasa.gov

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