ORBCOMM Satellite Reenters - Was Stranded by Falcon 9 Anomaly
ORBCOMM confirmed this afternoon that its prototype OG2 satellite that was stranded in the wrong orbit after the Falcon 9 anomaly on Sunday night has reentered. The company said earlier that it was investigating whether onboard propulsion could be used to boost it into a higher orbit, but that apparently was not possible.
ORBCOMM put a brave face on the incident, saying that during the short time OG2 was in orbit they were able to obtain engineering data and "made significant strides in testing various hardware components." The solar array and communications payload antenna were successfully deployed and basic functions of the satellite bus were successfully tested, it reported.
Stressing that this was the "single prototype" ORBCOMM OG2 satellite, the company asserted that it is now confident that the satellites will perform as designed and now will focus on launching the operational constellation. Those launches also will use Falcon 9 and ORBCOMM CEO Marc Eisenberg praised SpaceX as a "supportive partner" and said he is "highly confident in their team and technology."
Despite its statements that it was able to obtain needed data from the satellite, the company also said that it is filing a claim under its insurance policy. It added that the maximum amount covered by the policy is $10 million, enough to "largely" cover the cost of the satellite and its launch.
The satellite was a secondary payload on the Falcon 9 launch that placed the Dragon spacecraft into the correct orbit to rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS). Dragon successfully berthed with ISS yesterday.
One of the nine Falcon 9 engines failed during launch, however. The other eight engines compensated sufficiently to get Dragon into its correct orbit, but a second burn needed to put ORBCOMM OG2 into its orbit was not achieved. Satellite tracker T.S. Kelso (@tskelso) tweeted yesterday that it was in a 318 x 194 kilometer (km) orbit. Bob Christy (@zarya_info) had earlier tweeted that the intended orbit was "700+ km."
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