Sunday, October 14, 2012

Satellite Falls Out of Orbit Due To SpaceX Engine Failure

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- A satellite launched as a secondary mission payload aboard the October 7, 2012 SpaceX Cargo Re-Supply Services (CRS-1) mission fell out of its intended orbit due to one of the SpaceX Falcon 9 Merlin rocket engines failing during launch.


The satellite might have reached its intended orbit if SpaceX was able to re-fire the rocket engines.  However, the safety protocols for the International Space Station did not permit a re-firing of the engines.


"The OG2 prototype was deployed into a lower orbit as the result of a pre-imposed safety check required by NASA.  The safety check was designed to protect the International Space Station and its crew," satellite owner Orbcomm, Inc. said in a press release. "Had ORBCOMM been the primary payload on this mission, as planned for the upcoming launches, we believe the OG2 prototype would have reached the desired orbit."


Notwithstanding the shortened life of the OG2 prototype, ORBCOMM says that the OG2 program engineering teams from ORBCOMM, Sierra Nevada Corporation and Boeing made significant strides in testing various hardware components.  


ORBCOMM added that after telemetry and command capability was established, several critical system verifications were performed.  The solar array and communications payload antenna deployments were successful, along with verifying the performance of various components of both the OG2 satellite bus and the communications payload.  The OG2 satellite bus systems including power, attitude control, thermal and data handling were also tested to verify proper operation.  The unique communications payload, which incorporates a highly reprogrammable software radio with common hardware for both gateway and subscriber messaging, also functioned as expected.


“We appreciate the complexity and work that SpaceX put into this launch,” stated Marc Eisenberg, ORBCOMM’s CEO.  “SpaceX has been a supportive partner, and we are highly confident in their team and technology.”