A Nasa mission to measure the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere is in jeopardy after its spacecraft failed shortly after liftoff.
Nasa said the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) failed to reach orbit after its 04:55 local time (09:55) liftoff at California's Vandenberg base.
A statement explained that the faring on the Taurus XL launch vehicle failed to separate.
"The fairing is a clamshell structure that encapsulates the satellite as it travels through the atmosphere," Nasa said.
"The spacecraft did not reach orbit and likely landed in the Pacific Ocean near Antarctica."
A spokesperson added that a mishap investigation board probe had been set-up.
John Brunschwyler of Orbital Sciences Corporation, which manufactured the OCO, said: "Our whole team, at a very personal level, is very disappointed in the events of this morning."
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