Another Climate Fail for NASA

Prepare for liftoff. . .

The earth observation satellite Glory failed to reach orbit on Friday after its protective cover did not detach following its launch, a NASA official said.

“The fairing did not separate and the vehicle does not have sufficient velocity with the fairing on to achieve orbit,” an official said on NASA TV, adding that there was “no indication as to why it did not separate.”

He said there would be a press briefing at around 7:30 am (1230 GMT).

The launch of the satellite — which was to measure aerosols in the Earth’s atmosphere to help clarify their impact on climate — was delayed on February 23 after an unexpected ground control reading 15 minutes before liftoff.

On Friday it rocketed away from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California aboard a four stage Taurus-XL rocket at 2:09 am (1009 GMT), but NASA soon reported that it was slowing down and would not reach orbit.

. . . or not. A pattern?

A similar mishap took place in February 2009, when a satellite designed to monitor global carbon dioxide emissions plummeted into the ocean near Antarctica after failing to reach orbit, in a setback for climate science.

There too, a fatal mission error occurred minutes after liftoff when a clamshell-like nose cone known as a fairing, which protects the satellite during its ascent, failed to separate properly.

Maybe we should study the environmental impact of NASA’s continued littering of the world’s oceans with mutli-million-dollar satellites.




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