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Orbcomm beats SES to SpaceX launch

October 19, 2015

According to a statement from LEO satellite operator Orbcomm, it has managed to secure the first flight on a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket from Cape Canaveral.  SpaceX had widely been expected to launch a SES satellite, following on from the June 28th catastrophic explosion of a Falcon-9 and which has put the complete SpaceX launch programme on hold.

New Jersey-based Orbcomm, in its Oct 16 statement, said: “We are excited to launch our eleven OG2 satellites aboard SpaceX’s newly upgraded Falcon 9 rocket and have full confidence in SpaceX and their dedication to this launch,” said Marc Eisenberg, Orbcomm’s CEO. “We look forward to completing the deployment of our next generation constellation and delivering a higher level of performance, coverage and reliability through our modernized and upgraded OG2 network to our customers around the world.”

Orbcomm’s core business is providing ‘Internet of Thing’s’ and ‘Machine-to-Machine’ connectivity from its fleet of Low Earth Orbiting satellites. The 11 satellites for the planned launch will be shipped to Cape Canaveral over the next two weeks.  SpaceX orbited the first batch of 6 Orbcomm OG2 craft back in July 2014.

As for the SES-9 craft it is expected to be second in the queue for a SpaceX launch, and this is likely to take place around the end of the year.

SpaceX, in its statement helped clarify the reasons behind the switch: “As we prepare for return to flight, SpaceX together with its customers SES and Orbcomm have evaluated opportunities to optimise the readiness of the upcoming Falcon 9 return-to-flight mission.  All parties have mutually agreed that SpaceX will now fly the Orbcomm-2 mission on the return-to-flight Falcon 9 vehicle.

 “The Orbcomm-2 mission does not require a relight of the second stage engine following orbital insertion. Flying the Orbcomm-2 mission first will therefore allow SpaceX to conduct an on-orbit test of the second stage relight system after the Orbcomm-2 satellites have been safely deployed. This on-orbit test, combined with the current qualification program to be completed prior to launch, will further validate the second stage relight system and allow for optimisation of the upcoming SES-9 mission and following missions to geosynchronous transfer orbit.”

“This change does not affect the timeline for SpaceX’s return-to-flight mission which is still targeted to take place in the next 6-8 weeks. The SES-9 launch is currently targeted for late December 2015.”

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