This Day in Failure, February 24
2009: A 986-pound NASA satellite designed to monitor carbon dioxide levels in the earth’s atmosphere plunges into the ocean near Antarctica just minutes after liftoff from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base. NASA blames the loss of the $273 million mission on an equipment malfunction, reporting that the payload fairing protecting the Orbiting Carbon Observatory failed to come off as designed, thereby preventing the satellite from reaching orbit.
1989: The forward lower lobe cargo door on a United Airlines Boeing 747 en route from Honolulu, Hawaii, to Auckland, New Zealand rips open in flight. Nine passengers are ejected from the plane at an altitude of 22,000 feet and lost in the Pacific Ocean. Flight 811 makes a successful emergency landing in Honolulu where the three crew, flight attendants, and remaining passengers evacuate the plane.
1988: London’s Daily Telegraph newspaper is printed with the wrong date (Thursday 25 February), prompting countless complaints from readers. The following day a cartoon by Matt Pritchett appears on the front page with the caption: “I hope I have a better Thursday than I did yesterday.”