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NASA delays carbon observatory launch

A problem with the system that sprays water under the ignited engines to protect the launch pad spoiled NASA's plans.
By Brooks Hays   |   July 1, 2014 at 1:08 PM   |   Comments

LOMPOC, Calif., July 1 (UPI) -- NASA's rocket engineers only had a 30-second window to launch its Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 spacecraft into the proper orbit. But at the last second, a problem was detected and, understandably, controllers weren't able to diagnose and repair the defect in just half of a minute.

With the 30-second window quickly come and gone, NASA was forced to abandon the launch.

NASA's Delta 2 rocket was scheduled to blast off from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base at 6:56 a.m. Tuesday, carrying with it OCO-2, the new satellite dedicated solely to the task of measuring and mapping Earth's CO2 emissions. But a problem with the system that sprays water under the ignited engines to protect the launch pad spoiled the plans. NASA will try again Wednesday morning.

Once launched, NASA engineers will take approximately seven weeks to test and tweak the spacecraft, carefully nudging it into its final orbit 438 miles above Earth. The orbital path will be longitudinal, taking OCO-2 over the North and South Poles on a daily basis.

The $465 million mission will gather millions of measurements from different places along the Earth's surface as the planet rotates beneath the craft's north-south path. Every 16 days, OCO-2 will find itself passing atop the same location.

This will be the second of five satellites launched by NASA's earth sciences division this year -- all five built to study Earth.

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