A rocket carrying NASA's $424 million Glory satellite malfunctioned in mid-air this morning and has crashed into the Pacific Ocean. According to NASA, the protective cone on the top of the rocket did not detach properly and the craft failed to gain enough velocity to reach orbit.
The Taurus XL rocket, which launched from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 5:10 a.m. ET, was carrying a satellite designed to study the Earth's climate. This is now the second time in two years that a Taurus XL rocket has botched a launch while transporting a satelite. Space.com has more specifics on its the Glory satellite's capablities:
The Glory satellite was designed to study the interaction between the sun's energy and Earth's atmosphere, with a specific focus on tiny particles – called aerosols – and their role in the planet's climate. Scientists hoped the satellite would address key uncertainties in climate research — especially those surrounding the contributions of manmade and natural aerosols to global climate change.
Here is video of the liftoff:
NASA issued the following video statement explaining the botched launch, which is slim on details:
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