February 18, 2009

Orbiting Carbon Observatory Ready for Launch

The launch of NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory, or OCO, aboard a Taurus XL rocket is scheduled for Feb. 24. Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 576-E at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., is set for 1:51:30 a.m. PST during a 4-and-a-half-minute launch window. The spacecraft's final polar orbit will be 438 miles.

OCO is NASA's first spacecraft dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is the leading human-produced greenhouse gas driving changes in Earth's climate. OCO will provide the first complete picture of human and natural carbon dioxide sources as well as their "sinks," the places where carbon dioxide is pulled out of the atmosphere and stored. It will map the global geographic distribution of these sources and sinks and study their changes over time. The new observatory will dramatically improve global carbon dioxide data, collecting about eight million precise measurements every 16 days for at least two years.

The prelaunch press conference and coverage of the launch will be carried live on NASA Television on the NASA TV "Public Channel" (Channel 101). For information on receiving NASA TV go to: http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/digital.html

NASA Television will carry the prelaunch news conference starting at 9 a.m. PST/Noon EST on Monday, Feb. 23. The prelaunch press conference will also be webcast at: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

On launch day, Feb. 24, NASA TV coverage of the countdown will begin at 12 a.m. PST/3 a.m. EST. Liftoff is targeted to occur at 1:51:30 a.m. PST. Spacecraft separation from the Taurus occurs 13 minutes 19 seconds after launch.

Launch coverage of OCO/Taurus XL countdown activities will be available on the NASA Web site by going to the home page at: http://www.nasa.gov

Live countdown coverage on NASA's launch blog begins at midnight PST. Coverage features real-time updates of countdown milestones, as well as streaming video clips highlighting launch preparations and liftoff.

To access these features, go to NASA's OCO mission Web site at: http://www.nasa.gov/oco/


Image Caption: Inside Building 1032 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, technicians install NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory spacecraft inside the payload fairing. Credit: NASA/Robert Hargreaves Jr.