Image above: The Taurus XL rocket lifts off on March 4, 2011 from Vandenberg Air Force Base. Image credit: NASA TV › View larger image
Image above: The Taurus XL launch control. Image credit: NASA TV
NASA's Glory Spacecraft Launched, Fails To Reach Orbit NASA's Glory spacecraft launched aboard an Orbital Sciences Corporation Taurus XL rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on March 4, 2011 at 5:09:45 a.m. EST, but failed to reach orbit. The countdown and launch went smoothly until the point at which data should have indicated that the fairing had separated from the vehicle. Telemetry indicated the fairing, the protective shell atop the rocket, did not separate as expected about three minutes after launch. The fairing underwent a redesign of its separation system after a similar failure two years earlier. The new system was successfully used on another Orbital launch vehicle several times. The March 4 launch was the second attempt to launch Glory. Technical issues with ground support equipment for the Taurus XL launch vehicle led to the scrub of the original Feb. 23 launch attempt.
The Taurus is designed to place a payload weighing up to 3,000 pounds into low-Earth orbit. It is a ground-launched version of the Orbital's air-launched Pegasus rocket.