NASA successfully launches atmospheric CO2-tracking satellite
American space agency NASA on Wednesday successfully launched an atmospheric carbon dioxide-tracking satellite in the Earth's low orbit.
The federal agency's Delta 2 rocket blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 2:56 a. m. after a journey of 56 minutes, it released the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite into a polar orbit of the Earth.
It was scheduled for the launch on Tuesday but a water flow issue forced the space agency to postpone the launch until Wednesday morning. The successful launch brought a relief to NASA which lost a similar satellite around five years ago.
Tim Dunn, the launch manager for OCO-2 satellite, said that they had been preparing for the mission for around two years.
After the successful launch, Dunn said, "We've been preparing for the OCO-2 mission for almost two years now. The biggest challenge has been in bringing the Delta II launch vehicle out of retirement. The last time we launched on a Delta II was October 2011, a weather satellite."
It will take nearly two weeks for the mission team to complete spacecraft system checks. Then, the OCO-2 satellite will be moved into its operational orbit, where it will join other Earth-observing satellites.
The main objective of the $468-million mission is to help researchers determine how the environment absorbs carbon dioxide, the main culprit behind global warming. The satellite's polar orbit will enable it to cover nearly 80 per cent of the globe.
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