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A Delta II rocket blazed off the launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California early Wednesday morning to begin a landmark mission to survey carbon dioxide gas in Earth's atmosphere.

A Delta II rocket blazed off the launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California early Wednesday morning to begin a landmark mission to survey carbon dioxide gas in Earth's atmosphere.

Read: NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory

The spacecraft flew into orbit aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The July 2 liftoff came at 5:56 a.m. Eastern time, 2:56 Pacific time. The hexagonal spacecraft is about 6 feet long and 3 feet in diameter and weighs 985 pounds. The Delta II first stage's single liquid-fueled engine ignited moments before the three solid-fueled boosters roared to life to catapult the rocket and spacecraft off the pad toward space.

A Delta II rocket blazed off the launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California early Wednesday morning to begin a landmark mission to survey carbon dioxide gas in Earth's atmosphere.

Technicians and engineers work with the OCO-2 spacecraft during processing inside a facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

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