Dreams, Discovery, and Space Missions
By Sally Mouakkad, Science and Innovation Officer, British Consulate General in Los Angeles, CA
Earlier this month I had the chance to fulfill a dream I’d had since I was a kid: seeing an actual rocket launch into space. Specifically, the launch of NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2 (OCO-2) aboard a Delta II rocket at the U.S. Vandenberg Air Force Station in California. Following the 2009 failure of OCO-1, the high hopes present amongst everyone on-site at the originally scheduled OCO-2 launch on 1 July were almost crushed as the launchpad experienced a water flow issue at T-46 seconds.
Missing the 30-second window that would allow OCO-2 to perfectly align in the A-train satellite constellation with 5 other satellites in space, the launch was put on hold for 24 hours. But much to my delight, OCO-2 finally made its successful journey to space at 2:56am the next day. OCO-2 is “NASA’s first dedicated Earth remote sensing satellite to study atmospheric carbon dioxide from space.” The data collected will help scientists improve “predictions of future atmospheric CO2 increases and its impact on Earth’s climate.”