October 09, 2012
SpaceX Falcon 9 First Stage Engine Problem Throws off ORBCOMM OG2 Deployment
By Doug Mohney, Contributing Editor
Late on October 8, ORBCOMM (News - Alert) cleared up the mystery of why its OG2 prototype satellite isn't in the proper orbit. It also explained why it traces back to the first stage engine problem of the Falcon 9 rocket on its October 7 launch for a supply run to the space station.
The ORBCOMM OG2 prototype satellite was flying as a secondary payload on SpaceX's (News - Alert) Cargo Re-Supply Services (CRS-1) mission launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida on October 7, 2012 at 8:30 PM EST. One of the Falcon 9 rocket's first stage engines had a problem at about a minute plus into the launch, resulting in the problem engine shutting down and the flight computers adjusting burn time on the remaining engines to put its primary payload -- the Dragon spacecraft carrying cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) -- into the right orbit for a rendezvous.
Dragon successfully made it into orbit, but the Falcon 9 second stage did not make it into a pre-planned safety gate for its second burn to deliver OG2 into a planned transfer orbit of 350 by 750 kilometers. It instead, as first reported by Jonathan McDowell of Jonathan's Space Report, ended up in a lower 203 by 323 kilometer orbit. McDowell assumed correctly that the second stage didn't restart as planned to put OG2 into the orbit ORBCOMM wanted... Read More