NASA's $424M Fail: Satellite Ends Up in Pacific
Glory satellite was to analyze particles in Earth's atmosphere
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2011 10:19 AM CST
The Taurus XL rocket crashed into the Pacific Ocean this morning, in a failed launch of an Earth-observation satellite.    (AP Photo/NASA - Randy Beaudoin)
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(Newser) – NASA's latest mission—a $424 million mission at that—has ended up in the Pacific Ocean: The protective shell on a Taurus XL rocket failed to separate from the Earth-observation satellite it was carrying like it was supposed to, reports the AP. "We failed to make orbit," said the NASA launch director this morning. "Indications are that the satellite and rocket ... is in the southern Pacific Ocean somewhere." The failure comes after a week of troubleshooting a technical glitch that canceled an earlier launch.

NASA suffered a similar mishap two years ago when a satellite that would have studied global warming crashed into the ocean near Antarctica after launching from the same kind of rocket that carried Glory. Officials say that Glory likely wound up landing near where the previous satellite did. Had Glory not ended up in the water, it would have set out on a three-year mission to analyze how airborne particles affect Earth's climate. It was to study aerosols—which come from volcanoes, forest fires, desert storms, and man-made sources—in particular.