NASA Orbiting Carbon Observatory on a Taurus XL 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.


News media desiring accreditation for the launch of OCO should fax their request on news organization letterhead to:

Lt. Justin Jessop
30th Space Wing Public Affairs Office
Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

FAX: 805-606-8303
Telephone: 805-606-3595

Information required for U.S. media is full legal name, date of birth and media affiliation.


Monday, Feb. 23: A prelaunch news conference will be held at 9 a.m. PST in the 2nd floor conference room of the NASA Vandenberg Resident Office, Building 840, at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Question-and-answer capability will be available from participating NASA locations. The news conference briefers will be:

Eric Ianson, OCO Program Executive
NASA Headquarters

Chuck Dovale, NASA Launch Director
Kennedy Space Center

John Brunschwyler, Taurus Program Manager
Orbital Sciences Corporation

Ralph Basilio, OCO Deputy Project Manager
Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)

Capt. Damon Vorhees, Launch Weather Officer, 30th Weather Squadron
Vandenberg Air Force Base


Immediately following the OCO Prelaunch News Conference will be an OCO Mission Science Briefing. Participating will be:

David Crisp, OCO Principal Investigator

Charles Miller, OCO Deputy Principal Investigator

Media desiring to cover the prelaunch news conference should meet at the south gate of Vandenberg Air Force Base on California State Road 246 at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 23. They will be escorted by 30th Space Wing Public Affairs to the NASA Vandenberg Resident Office.


Monday, Feb. 23: Immediately following the prelaunch press conference, there will be an opportunity for the media to see and photograph the Orbital Sciences Taurus XL at the launch pad with OCO encapsulated in the payload fairing atop the rocket. Media will be escorted from the press conference to the launch pad. Photographers not desiring to attend the press conference should meet at the pass and identification building at the Vandenberg main gate on California State Road 1 at 10:30 a.m. to be escorted to the launch pad.


Monday, Feb. 23: Media desiring to establish sound-activated remote cameras at the launch pad should meet at the pass and identification building located at the Vandenberg main gate on California State Road 1 at 10:30 a.m. to be escorted to the launch pad.


Tuesday, Feb. 24: Media covering the OCO/Taurus XL launch should meet at 1 a.m. at the Vandenberg main gate located on California State Road 1 to be escorted to the press viewing site. Press credentials and identification from a bona fide news organization will be required for access. Driver's license alone will not be sufficient.

After launch, media will be escorted back to the gate or escorted to the NASA Mission Director's Center for quotes from launch management officials if desired.


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:

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:

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.


To monitor audio of the prelaunch news conference and the launch coverage, dial the NASA "V" circuits, which may be accessed directly at 321-867-1220, -1240 and -1260. This system is not two-way interactive. "Mission Audio" of countdown activities without NASA launch commentary will be carried on 321-867-7135 beginning at midnight.


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

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:


The OCO/Taurus News Center at the NASA Vandenberg Resident Office currently is open and may be reached at 805-605-3051. A recorded status report is also available by dialing 805-734-2693. -end- NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., operates the Deep Space Network. For information about the Deep Space Network, go to:

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