Volume: 07, Issue: 03 03/11/2009 
NASAís Orbiting Carbon Observatory and its Taurus booster lift off from Vandenberg Air Force Base. A contingency was declared a few minutes later. Image credit: Orbital Sciences Corporation.
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This is an artistís concept of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory. Image credit: NASA/JPL.
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This is another artistís concept of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory. Image credit: NASA/JPL.
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Other Articles in This Issue:
NASA's Kepler Mission Rockets to Space in Search of Other Earths
Newfound Moon May Be Source of Outer Saturn Ring
Station Spacewalkers Install Experiments, Probe
Discuss Spaceflight with Former NASA Astronaut Rich Clifford
 

NASA's Launch Of Carbon-Seeking Satellite Unsuccessful

NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory satellite failed to reach orbit after its 4:55 am Eastern time liftoff on February 24, 2009, from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Preliminary indications are that the fairing on the Taurus XL launch vehicle failed to separate. The fairing is a clamshell structure that encapsulates the satellite as it travels through the atmosphere.

A Mishap Investigation Board has convened to determine the cause of the launch failure. NASA's Rick Obenschain, deputy director at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, will lead the investigation board for the unsuccessful launch of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory. The Investigation Board, or MIB, consists of four other voting members:
-- Jose Caraballo, safety manager at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.
-- Patricia Jones, acting chief of the Human Systems Integration Division in the Exploration Technology Directorate at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California.
-- Richard Lynch, Aerospace Systems Engineering, Goddard Space Flight Center.
-- Dave Sollberger, deputy chief engineer of the NASA Launch Services Program at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The ex officio member is Ruth Jones, Safety and Mission Assurance manager at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The ex officio member assures board activity conforms to NASA procedural requirements.

Obenschain shares responsibility for executive leadership and overall direction and management of Goddard and its assigned programs and projects. He also is responsible for providing executive oversight and technical evaluation for the development and delivery for Goddard space systems launch and operations.

Previously, Obenschain was appointed director of the Flight Projects Directorate in September 2004, and was responsible for the day-to-day management of more than 40 space and Earth science missions. He has held a number of project management positions at Goddard.

Obenschain is the recipient of NASA's Distinguished Service Medal, Exceptional Service Medal, Outstanding Leadership Medal, Equal Opportunity Medal, and Goddard's Award of Merit. In 1995, he received the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics von Braun Award for Excellence in Space Program Management.

The board began its investigation March 3. The members will gather information, analyze the facts, and identify the failure's cause or causes and contributing factors. The board will make recommendations for actions to prevent a similar incident.

The board will gather information, analyze the facts, and identify the failure's cause or causes and contributing factors. The MIB will make recommendations for actions to prevent a similar incident.

For more information, please visit the following website:
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/oco/main/index.html.

    
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