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NASA’s Glory Mission Launches from VAFB but Fails to Reach Orbit

Video shows rocket that apparently crashed into southern Pacific after malfunction

A Taurus XL rocket was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base early Friday but failed to place its payload of a NASA Glory Earth-observation satellite and three CubeSat nano satellites into orbit.

The rocket likely crashed in the southern Pacific Ocean, NASA officials said.

The liftoff occurred at 2:09 a.m. but the rocket’s ascent began to slow before reaching orbit altitude. Officials said a protective shell atop the rocket did not separate as it should have about 300 seconds into the launch and apparently caused the lack of velocity.

The $424 million mission was managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

The three CubeSats were designed and built by students from the University of Colorado, the University of Kentucky and Montana State University.

— Anthony Galván III is a Noozhawk reader. More of his photography can be viewed at

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