A bad day

When I started this blog, I wrote that I was going to provide you with some insight into the challenges and triumphs of the OCO mission.  Today has definitely been a challenge.

Keeping with the theme of this blog, I’m going to stick more with my personal experiences from the last 24 hours, than the specific details of what happened (this info is available on the NASA home page).

The evening began for me as a boyhood dream come true….sitting on console at the Mission Director’s Center monitoring launch preparation communications.  I felt a combination of excitement and nervousness as the countdown continued.  The coordination and professionalism of the personnel participating in the launch is far beyond any expectations that I had before witnessing it first hand.  As we went to the final countdown, my stomach was in knots.  The tension remained even after everything looked nominal immediately following lift off, just waiting for the first positive signals from OCO.

Unfortunately, the dream didn’t end like it did when I was a kid.  It is difficult to describe the bitter disappointment in the room when the NASA Launch Manager called a contingency.  Faces throughout the room dropped.  I just put my head in my hands.  As bad as I felt, I know it was even tougher on the scientists and engineers who have spent countless hours preparing the observatory for this day.  

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we plan for the best, but prepare for the worst.  That preparation was important, as it enabled the team to react quickly and prepare for the upcoming investigation.  For me, the meetings, phone calls and e-mails have been continuous.

It was tough today, but we will go on.  The people who work for NASA do so because we love the science…love the technology…and love the challenge.  What we do isn’t easy and sometimes we don’t succeed.  But as we recover from the shock of this loss, we will pick ourselves up and prepare for the next mission…the next challenge.  NASA, and its Earth science program, will continue to do great things for the science community, the country, and the world.

Thanks to those who have taken the time to read my blog.  I hope I get the opportunity to do this again in the future.


9 thoughts on “A bad day”

  1. I am disappointed there was no reassurance a replacement will be launched at the press conference. Although the Japanese vehicle and new technology can replace some of the lost information, climate change may have already reached a point of no return. This failure is very unfortunate.
    Given the bizarre antagonism against climate change data and a previous faultless history of the fairing, I can’t help wondering if sabotage was involved.

  2. A terrible loss for our scientists. Hopefully we can collaborate with the Japanese with their satellite, it makes sense to since the issue we are trying to put light on has global effects. Well, I hope the investigation of the crash goes smoothly. Sorry about your dreams not turning out as hoped but at least you are participating, there are a lot who dream of just being with NASA 🙂

  3. Wow, I was watching the thing live, and it was a shock to see this happen.

    My condolences on the project, and hoping to see it make a phoenix-like resurrection in the future.

  4. I was disappointed the press conference gave no reassurance of a replacement research satellite. The Japanese satellite and new configurations of current satellites do not reassure me the US will get the information it needs to study and monitor greenhouse gasses. Climate change is real and must be prepared for if life on earth are to adapt to it. Given the vehement hostility toward climate change data and carbon emissions research, I can not help thinking sabotage may have been involved in this loss.

  5. Sorry for your disappointments!

    I have a photo collage made from six :30 exposures of your OCO launch taken from the palisades above Santa Monica bay. The six exposures are 12.1 megapixel resolution raw files taken with a Nikon d90. The stitched image can be seen at http://www.clydebeamer.com/?p=544

    Would the hi-res raw files be of any use to you guys??

  6. Dear Mr. President,
    NASA is a fiscal embarrassment once again for allowing a government contractor like Orbital Sciences Corp., VA to use good research money to exploit our “fears” OF GLOBAL-WARMING and blast 9 yrs of money, time and resources ($280 million or more ) it all into the ocean. Who’s accountable?

  7. Hi Eric:
    Thanks for producing this excellent blog.

    I had hoped to be working on code for the evaluation and eventual validation of OCO data tonight, but instead, am reading about the deeply disappointing events of a few days ago.

    I have a first hand account from the point of view of the scientists who were watching from the golf course, posted at:


    Thanks for your excellent work on OCO. I hope you will participate in many future successful launches and that this will be your only experience with a failure.


  8. Put me in the “sabotage” column…
    The fairing that failed to release was used in over 50 launches without a hitch…. All feedback from the launch indicated that both the two primary and the two backup signals were successfully sent to blast the fairing away but it did not happen….

    The motive ? :
    There would be huge political consequences had the COC been successful and even suggested that the “global warming” crowd was on the wrong track….or that the United States was NOT the major contribute of CO2 emissions.

    I smell a rat!


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