Fri, Mar 04, 2011
NASA Will Open An Investigation Into Its Second Taurus XL
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
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
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.
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