No glory for NASA climate rocket

| 04/03/2011

(BBC): The US space agency’s (Nasa) attempt to launch its latest Earth observation mission has ended in failure. The Glory satellite lifted off from California on a quest to gather new data on factors that influence the climate. But about three minutes into the flight, telemetry indicated a problem. It appears the fairing – the part of the rocket which covers the satellite on top of the launcher – did not separate properly. This would have made the rocket too heavy and therefore too slow to achieve its intended 700km orbit. "All indications are that the satellite and the rocket are in the Southern Pacific Ocean somewhere," said launch director Omar Baez. The loss of Glory is a huge blow to the Orbital Sciences Corporation (OSC) as well as Nasa.

The company makes the rocket and assembled the Glory satellite for the space agency.

Exactly the same problem befell Nasa’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) in 2009. It too launched on a Taurus XL rocket from the Vandenberg Air Force Base, and again the fairing failed to separate properly.
On that occasion a "Mishap Investigation Board" was established to determine the root cause of the nose cone’s failure and to make recommendations to remedy the malfunction.

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