Published February 24, 2009 10:38 AM

NASA's global warming satellite falls to Earth

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, California - A NASA satellite designed to track carbon dioxide emissions failed to reach orbit and landed in the ocean early Tuesday in a mishap that could jeopardize its mission to better understand climate change.

The Taurus XL rocket carrying the Orbiting Carbon Observatory blasted off as planned at 1:55 a.m. PST (4:55 EST) from Vandenberg Air Force Base on California's Central Coast.


Several minutes into the flight, launch managers declared a "contingency plan" after the payload fairing failed to separate from the launch vehicle. The fairing protects the spacecraft as the launch vehicle flies through the atmosphere.

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