NASA Awards Satellite Launch Contract

PASADENA, Calif., June 22 (UPI) — NASA announced the selection Tuesday of Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., to launch its Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 spacecraft.

The satellite is to be sent into space in February 2013 aboard a Taurus XL 3110 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.


NASA officials said the total cost of the launch services contract is about $70 million, including the rocket, plus additional services under other contracts for payload processing, launch vehicle integration, and tracking, data and telemetry support.

The mission is to be NASA’s first dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide, the leading human-produced greenhouse gas driving changes in the Earth’s climate. The satellite is to provide the first complete picture of human and natural carbon dioxide sources and “sinks” — places where the gas is pulled out of the atmosphere and stored, officials said.

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 spacecraft follows OCO-1, which was lost during a launch vehicle failure in 2009.

The project is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

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