Author Topic: Satellite Left Stranded by SpaceX Rocket Falls From Space  (Read 1217 times)

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Satellite Left Stranded by SpaceX Rocket Falls From Space
« on: October 13, 2012, 04:31:13 PM »
Quote
Satellite Left Stranded by SpaceX Rocket Falls From Space
By Peter B. de Selding, Space News | SPACE.com – 6 hrs ago.. .

 
PARIS — Satellite messaging service provider Orbcomm on Oct. 11 said its prototype second-generation satellite, launched Oct. 7 into a bad orbit by a Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) Falcon 9 rocket, had fallen out of orbit but had provided enough data to proceed with the launch of the full constellation starting next year.
 
Fort Lee, N.J.-based Orbcomm, which plans to launch all 18 second-generation satellites aboard two SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets, said it would be filing an insurance claim of $10 million to cover the loss of the satellite and the cost of the launch and the insurance policy.
 
In its statement, Orbcomm suggested that its satellite prime contractor, Sierra Nevada Corp. of Sparks, Nev., had enough access to the satellite in less than four days in orbit to validate the performance of its major subsystems.
 
If Orbcomm’s insurance underwriters accept this, then Orbcomm will not need to launch another prototype, but will be able to proceed with the launch of two groups of second-generation spacecraft on two Falcon 9 rockets. [SpaceX to Space Station: Complete Coverage]
 


Orbcomm said that, had its satellite been the primary payload on SpaceX’s Oct. 7 flight, the mission would have been a success. The main mission for the Falcon 9 was the delivery into orbit of the SpaceX Dragon space station cargo vehicle, which was berthed to the station on Oct. 10.
 
SpaceX and NASA, which is SpaceX’s customer for the space station resupply missions, hailed the launch as a success, saying the Falcon 9 rocket’s flexibility was demonstrated by the fact that one of its nine Merlin first-stage engines shut down early in the flight.
 
It was that engine shutdown that forced SpaceX not to proceed with a reignition of the Falcon 9 engines later in the flight out of respect for NASA space station safety guidelines. With no reignition, the Falcon 9 left Orbcomm’s OG2 satellite in a too-low orbit.
 
“Notwithstanding the shortened life of the OG2 prototype, the OG2 program engineering teams … made significant strides in testing various hardware components,” Orbcomm said. “The solar array and communications antenna deployments were successful. … The OG2 satellite bus systems including power, attitude control, thermal and data handling were also tested to verify proper operation.
 
“With this verification data, Orbcomm can focus on completing and launching the OG2 as the primary mission payloads on two planned Falcon 9 launches, the first in mid-2013 and the second in 2014, directly into their operational orbit.”
 
In an Oct. 8 statement describing the first-stage engine shutdown, SpaceX sought to highlight the Falcon 9 rocket’s robustness given that it delivered the Dragon capsule to the required orbit. Neither Orbcomm nor the OG2 satellite was mentioned in the SpaceX statement.
 
SpaceX spokeswoman Katherine Nelson on Oct. 11 issued a follow-up statement that dealt with the Orbcomm payload.
 
"The goal of this mission was to transport cargo to the International Space Station for NASA," the statement said. "Orbcomm requested that SpaceX carry one of their small satellites (weighing a few hundred pounds, vs. Dragon at over 12,000 pounds) on this flight so that they could gather test data before we launch their full constellation next year.
 
"The higher the orbit, the more test data they can gather, so they requested that we attempt to restart and raise altitude. NASA agreed to allow that, but only on condition that there be substantial propellant reserves, since the orbit would be close to the space station.
 
"It is important to appreciate that Orbcomm understood from the beginning that the orbit-raising maneuver was tentative. They accepted that there was a high risk of their satellite remaining at the Dragon insertion orbit. SpaceX would not have agreed to fly their satellite otherwise, since this was not part of the core mission and there was a known, material risk of no altitude raise."
http://news.yahoo.com/satellite-left-stranded-spacex-rocket-falls-space-092345498.html

This will mitigate the damage to Orbcomm stock prices a good deal - I wonder if it's true.

Offline Unorthodox

Re: Satellite Left Stranded by SpaceX Rocket Falls From Space
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2012, 06:20:40 PM »
I think this is a mixture of truth and crap. 

The Orbcomm satellite was a prototype, yes, and it was a TEST one, yes.  It is not a part of their planned constellation, no.  Was it a successful test of the satellite's hardware?  I find that hard to believe they could have fully tested everything in 2 days.   

However, it was also a test for the Falcon 9, which has not yet successfully performed a multiple deployment target mission.  Considering Orbcomm is contracted SpaceX to launch 8 satellites in a single mission, it's not unreasonable to suspect they sacrificed one to test, probably very cheap, as if it had worked it would be more publicity for SpaceX.  I'm not sure the scheduling of the 8 satellite launch, but if another cargo run happens before, I wouldn't be surprised to see another test.  There's also a second 8 satellite launch in the works as well to finish the constellation of OG2 satellites. 

Offline Green1

Re: Satellite Left Stranded by SpaceX Rocket Falls From Space
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2012, 01:37:14 AM »
hmm.. I must have been skimming my NSF article reading. I missed it was a prototype. If so, it makes a bit more bussiness sense. Otherwise, as I said in another thread, WHY share with NAySAy when there are plenty proven private sat launchers. Maybe a discount to Orbcomm for putting up with  experimental services and getting multiple launches for a much reduced cost?

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Re: Satellite Left Stranded by SpaceX Rocket Falls From Space
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2012, 01:44:12 AM »
Oh, I should think there's no reason not to suspect that the deal was complicated - $10 million is peanuts in space, but still plenty to the respective companies.  SpaceX has to still be horrifically deep in the red for a long time to come, but any cash coming in helps, as does establishing business ties for the long run.

Offline Green1

Re: Satellite Left Stranded by SpaceX Rocket Falls From Space
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2012, 02:03:51 AM »
The COTS money milestone is not peanuts though. If they had not delivered to the ISS, folks would holler for blood.

So, it is a mixed success. Still, a bit bold for a COTS 2 demonstration at the Cape with all that pressure AND doing what is essentially two launches at once!! Got to admire Musk though, that takes balls.

Folks on industry forums that work for the guy call him like Carnegie. They say he is crazy brilliant nuts.

Offline Unorthodox

Re: Satellite Left Stranded by SpaceX Rocket Falls From Space
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2012, 04:11:50 PM »
hmm.. I must have been skimming my NSF article reading. I missed it was a prototype. If so, it makes a bit more bussiness sense. Otherwise, as I said in another thread, WHY share with NAySAy when there are plenty proven private sat launchers. Maybe a discount to Orbcomm for putting up with  experimental services and getting multiple launches for a much reduced cost?

And as I answered last time.  MONEY. 

The most efficient single launch vehicle for a satelite of this size is the Pegasus.  Cost of launch $11 Mil.   Record of 40 launches, 35 successful. 

Now we know this launch PLUS Satellite is only $10 mil.  So, they saved over $1 million by going on this, and got a chance to see what the falcon was capable of for multiple launches (which they are interested in since they're paying for it to launch a constellation later).  It's quite possible they now change the nature of the next mission to have the Falcon just drop all 8 satellites at one location, load them with more fuel, and utilize their on board drives to get the proper orbit.  (kinda depends on the distribution they're going for whether that's possible)

For Space X, it was a freebee.  If it worked, great.  Since it didn't, it's still a success because they hit the target for the mission. 

As for why pay for the 8 cluster?  Again, money, much more cost efficient to launch all at the same time. 

So, what are the options? 

Cost per launch (at that capacity, the dragon costs more) on the Falcon is ~$49-50 mil but possibly discounted further for the young system.  Delta II, ~$50-51 Mil, good history.   Taurus...is technically capable, upper end of weight limit ~45 mil 1/3 of launches have failed.  The Antares will be in this class and is doing a maiden test flight sometime soon.   
 
Bunch of foreign stuff I cant find cost data on, likely cheaper yes, but we go into international rules and tarriffs and stuff that might make it less appealing.     
« Last Edit: October 16, 2012, 04:37:33 PM by Unorthodox »

 

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