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Nasa's global warming satellite fails

NASA's Taurus rocket at launch
NASA's Taurus rocket at launch

A satellite that was created by Nasa to measure CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere has failed to reach orbit.

Part of a two-year Earth System Science Pathfinder Program mission, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) device was meant to help the US government measure carbon dioxide from space.

The satellite would have mapped greenhouse gases around Earth once every 16 days for at least two years, but now the mission looks to be lost.

Failed to separate

A statement, posted on Nasa's website, reads: "Several minutes into the flight of the Taurus rocket carrying Nasa's Orbiting Carbon Observatory spacecraft, launch managers declared a contingency after the payload fairing failed to separate."

The Taurus rocket was first used back in 1994 and had six out of seven successful missions before the latest launch.

According to, "The satellite was slated to launch into a near-polar, sun-synchronous orbit that would fly about 438 miles (705 km) above Earth."

The satellite was the first of its kind, and scientists are still determining what the status is of the spacecraft, with a press conference due to start later.