Feeds

SpaceX satellite burns up on re-entry after Falcon FAIL

50 per cent success rate for latest Falcon flight

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

The satellite that made up the secondary cargo of SpaceX's latest orbital mission has burnt up in the Earth's atmosphere after failing to make it into the correct orbit.

The OG2 satellite, a prototype communications platform built by Orbcomm, was carried by the Falcon rocket as a secondary payload and was due to be boosted up into a higher orbit once the primary payload, SpaceX's Dragon capsule containing supplies for the International Space Station, had been delivered.

Unfortunately for the satellite communications company, the Falcon rocket suffered "an anomaly," as SpaceX put it, 79 seconds after launch. A nozzle on one of the craft's nine Merlin engines blew out, forcing the controllers to shut down the power from that unit. The other eight engines successfully got the Dragon capsule into orbit and the ISS picked up its cargo as specified.

The Falcon was then due to make a second burn to get the OG2 satellite up to its required orbit, but safety regulations forced NASA to call a halt to any further orbital maneuvers. Orbcomm investigated using the satellite's own propulsion systems to get it into the right orbit, but instead opted to use the lower orbit for four days of testing, which the company proclaimed was a success.

"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 company said in a statement.

"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."

The company said it has now written the satellite off as a mission failure and has filed an insurance claim for $10m, which should cover the cost of manufacture and launch. The satellite has been de-orbited: boosted down into the planet's atmosphere where it was burnt up by the friction of reentry.

Orbcomm will now focus on its next launches, with will also use SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket. Two more launches are planned for 2013 and 2014 to carry Orbcomm's satellites, this time as the primary payload.

"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." ®

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
Vote now for LOHAN's stirring mission patch motto
Does the shed actually know no bounds, or what?
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Beancounters tell NASA it's too poor to fly planned mega-rocket
Space Launch System would need another $400m and a lot of time
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.