Speculation has been plentiful this past week regarding a new target launch date for the next SpaceX Falcon 9 mission, one which will (hopefully) deliver the first six of 17 next-generation commercial telecommunications satellites (identified as OG2) to an elliptical 750 x 615 km low-Earth orbit for customer ORBCOMM. Today, ORBCOMM announced the new target launch date and time, which is now Sunday, June 15, at 8:00 p.m. EDT, with a backup launch opportunity open for June 16.
From ORBCOMM today:
“During final integration on one of the OG2 spacecraft, we encountered a minor issue resulting in a few extra days of delay to perform precautionary steps to ensure there are no operational concerns with the satellite. We intend to re-encapsulate the satellites this evening, with static test firing of the rocket scheduled for Thursday or Friday this week.”
The launch, which will take place from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 40 in Florida, has been delayed several times over the last couple months, for various reasons.
An ORBCOMM prototype satellite which launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 as a secondary payload on Oct. 7, 2012, failed to reach its intended orbit due to a a pre-imposed safety check required by NASA when the rocket’s #1 Merlin engine suddenly lost pressure in flight. An engine shutdown command occurred as a result, preventing the rocket from performing a second burn to properly deliver the satellite. As a result the satellite eventually fell back to Earth.
Neither SpaceX nor the 45th Space Wing have confirmed a June 15 launch date, yet.
AmericaSpace will be on-site to provide full coverage of the launch when it occurs. Check back for updates throughout the week.