NASA said early Tuesday that it failed to launch a satellite which would have monitored greenhouse gases to study how they affect the Earth’s climate.
The rocket carrying the satellite launched at 1:55 a.m. PT (4:55 a.m. ET) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, but the “payload fairing failed to separate,” according to a statement on NASA’s Web site. The problems occurred several minutes into the launch. “We have declared a launch contingency, meaning that we did not have a successful launch tonight,” said George Diller, an agency spokesman. Project crew members on the ground were trying to determine the cause. NASA scheduled a news conference for later in the morning to provide more details. The $273 million satellite, called the Orbiting Carbon Observatory, would have collected “precise global measurements of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth’s atmosphere” to help better forecast the changes in carbon dioxide “and the effect that these changes may have on the Earth’s climate.”