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NASA Climate Satellite Launch Fails, Spacecraft Falls to Earth

A NASA mission intended to monitor global carbon dioxide emissions suffered a setback Tuesday when a rocket carrying a satellite did not reach orbit.

An official with the company that built the satellite, John Brunschwyler of Orbital Sciences Corporation, told a news conference Tuesday that the rocket landed in the ocean near Antarctica. He called it a "huge disappointment for the science community."

NASA says the covering that was over the satellite to protect it during launch did not come off as planned. The added weight prevented it from reaching orbit.

The U.S. space agency says the spacecraft was designed to measure carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere. The gas has been blamed for global climate change.

Scientists would have analyzed the data to better understand the natural processes and human activities that contribute to the amount and distribution of the gas. Experts could have then started to quantify where greenhouse gas is coming from and where it is going.

Last month, Japan launched the world's first satellite to monitor greenhouse gas emissions as part of global efforts to combat climate change.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.