Orbiting Carbon Observatory

NASA climate satellite destroyed during a 2009 launch failure

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) was a NASA satellite mission that was supposed to provide world-wide observations of atmospheric carbon dioxide from space. (CO2). It was lost in a launch failure on February 24, 2009, when the box of the Taurus rocket which was carrying it failed to come off during launch.[3] The added weight of the box it was in prevented the satellite from reaching its intended speed and height.[4] After that it fell back into the atmosphere and crashed[5] into the Indian Ocean near Antarctica.[6]

Orbiting Carbon Observatory
Artist rendition of the OCO satellite as it would look in orbit
Mission typeClimatology
Mission durationLaunch failure
Planned: 2 years
Spacecraft properties
ManufacturerOrbital Sciences[1]
Launch mass530 kg (1,170 lb)[1]
Payload mass150 kg (330 lb)[1]
DimensionsStowed: 2.3 × 1.4 m (7.5 × 4.6 ft)[1]
Power786 W[1]
Start of mission
Launch date24 February 2009, 09:55:31 (2009-02-24UTC09:55:31) UTC[2]
RocketTaurus-XL 3110
Launch siteVandenberg LC-576E
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Parkinson, Claire L.; Ward, Alan; King, Michael D., eds. (2006). "Orbiting Carbon Observatory" (PDF). Earth Science Reference Handbook. NASA. pp. 199–203. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  2. "Overview of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) Mishap Investigation Results For Public Release" (PDF). NASA. Retrieved 5 November 2018. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. "OC'O Blog". Archived from the original on 2009-02-26. Retrieved 2009-02-25.
  4. https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16657-co2tracking-satellite-crashes-after-liftoff.html CO2 satellite crashes after lift-off
  5. "National Geographic".
  6. https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/24/AR2009022401803.html?hpid=topnews