Wed, Oct 10, 2012
Was Carrying A Communications Satellite For Orbcomm Which Did Not Reach Insertion Point
While the engine shutdown that occurred on the Falcon 9 rocket during launch Sunday night will not affect the arrival of the Dragon cargo vessel at the ISS on schedule, it did mean that a secondary payload on the flight failed to reach its planned orbit.
Along with supplies for the ISS crew, the Falcon 9 was boosting a communications satellite for Virginia-based Orbcomm company. In a statement, the company said that the first prototype of its second generation of satellites (OG2) was launched on the Cargo Re-Supply Services (CRS-1) mission aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle from Cape Canaveral, FL, on October 7, 2012 at 2035 EDT. The OG2 prototype satellite, flying as a secondary payload on this mission, was separated from the Falcon 9 launch vehicle at approximately 2100 EDT. However, due to an anomaly on one of the Falcon 9’s first stage engines, the rocket did not comply with a pre-planned International Space Station (ISS) safety gate to allow it to execute the second burn.
For this reason, the OG2 prototype satellite was deployed into an orbit that was lower than intended. ORBCOMM and Sierra Nevada Corporation engineers have been in contact with the satellite and are working to determine if and the extent to which the orbit can be raised to an operational orbit using the satellite’s on-board propulsion system.
In mid-2013, ORBCOMM plans to launch an additional eight OG2 satellites on a Falcon 9, which will be placed into orbits that are optimized to deliver the best coverage for the enhanced OG2 messaging services. The remainder of the constellation of 18 OG2 satellites is expected to be launched on a Falcon 9 in 2014. ORBCOMM’s OG2 satellites will be the primary payload on both of these two planned launches to directly insert the OG2 satellites into the operational orbit.
(Image from SpaceX video of engine malfunction)
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