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Friday, March 4, 2011

Blaze of Glory

The Taurus XL rocket carrying the Glory satellite into orbit this morning appears to have failed catastrophically. This is a shame and yet a further setback for NASA. Glory was supposed to join the Afternoon Constellation of earth-observing satellites which are monitoring climate change.


Taurus XL Rocket Failure Results in Unsuccessful Launch of Glory Mission

NASA-- At a news conference following the unsuccessful attempt to place the Glory spacecraft in orbit, a team from NASA and Orbital Sciences Corporation, maker of the Taurus XL rocket, discussed the failure of the rocket's fairing to separate. The fairing, which covers and protects the spacecraft during launch and ascent, underwent a redesign of its separation system after a similar failure two years ago. The new system has been successfully used on another Orbital launch vehicle several times.

NASA Launch Director Omar Baez said the countdown and launch went smoothly until the point at which they should have received data indicating that the fairing had separated from the vehicle.

Once more data is analyzed, the teams hope to have a better understanding of what went wrong and where in the South Pacific the spacecraft may have landed.

The new Earth-observing satellite was intended to improve our understanding of how the sun and tiny atmospheric particles called aerosols affect Earth's climate.

Project management for Glory is the responsibility of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The launch management for the mission is the responsibility of NASA's Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., is the launch service provider to Kennedy of the four-stage Taurus XL rocket and is also builder of the Glory satellite for Goddard.

Image: Taurus XL rocket

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