VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) -- NASA says a rocket that blasted off carrying an Earth-observation satellite has failed to reach orbit.
Vandenberg Air Force Base officials say the Taurus XL rocket carrying NASA's Glory satellite lifted off about 2:10 a.m. PST Friday from the base.
But NASA says in a statement that a protective shell atop the rocket did not separate from the satellite as it should have about three minutes after the launch.
NASA launch commentator George Diller says that left the Glory spacecraft without the velocity to reach orbit.
The status of the flight wasn't immediately clear and flight officials didn't immediately respond to calls for further comment.
Glory was launched on a three-year mission to analyze how airborne particles affect Earth's climate. Besides monitoring particles in the atmosphere, it will also track solar radiation to determine the sun's effect on climate change.
The $424 million mission is managed by the NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)