Spacecraft: Orbiting Carbon Observatory Launch Vehicle: Orbital Sciences Taurus Rocket Launch Location: Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Launch Pad: Space Launch Complex 576-E Launch Date: Feb. 24, 2009 Launch Time: 1:55:30 am PST (4:55:30 am EST) Cost : $ 400 million Ignition and liftoff of the Taurus XL rocket carrying NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO), beginning a two-year mission to study what no spacecraft ever has: the sources and hiding places of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The rocket's Stage 0 is burning as it propels the vehicle away from Vandenberg Air Force Base and toward a near-polar, sun-synchronous orbit where it will orbit Earth once every 99 minutes. A Taurus XL rocket is speeding roughly southward near the California coast to begin the Orbiting Carbon Observatorys mission. The solid-fueled rocket is leaving a brilliant trail of flames and smoke on its way into the sky. It will take 13 minutes for the four-stage booster to settle the satellite into its precise orbit. Then the OCO spacecraft will unfurl its twin solar arrays to begin powering its onboard systems. Several minutes into the flight of the Taurus rocket carrying NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory spacecraft, launch managers declared a contingency after the payload fairing failed to separate.