The next SpaceX Falcon 9 launch, one which will (hopefully) deliver the first six of 17 next-generation commercial telecommunications satellites (identified as OG2) to an elliptical low-Earth orbit for customer ORBCOMM, has been delayed again to give ORBCOMM more time to ensure that a problem encountered with one of their six satellites earlier this week has truly been taken care of.
“All six satellites have completed additional testing and are functioning as expected. In an effort to be as cautious as possible, it was decided to perform further analysis to verify that the issue observed on one satellite during final integration has been fully addressed,” ORBCOMM said in a statement this morning. “The additional time to complete this analysis required us to postpone the OG2 Mission 1 Launch. We are working with SpaceX to identify the next available launch opportunity.”
The six satellites were re-encapsulated for their fiery ride to space earlier this week (Wed., June 11), and a static test fire of the Falcon-9 launch vehicle was planned for today after poor weather conditions at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station forced the team to stand down yesterday.
UPDATED June 14, 2014 — SpaceX did conduct a successful three-second pre-launch test firing of the rocket’s nine Merlin engines on the launch pad Friday afternoon. The launch team is reviewing the data collected before giving a GO for the Falcon-9 to fly (as is customary for every Falcon-9 launch).
The launch has been delayed several times over the last couple months, for various reasons, and now it may have to wait until July to fly because the U.S. Air Force Eastern Range, which provides vital support for launches off both Cape Canaveral AFS and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, is scheduled to begin two weeks of maintenance work early next week.
However, multiple sources are speculating a new NET launch date of June 20 is being negotiated.
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.
No new launch date/time has been announced yet.
Check back periodically for updates.
AmericaSpace will be on-site to provide full coverage of the launch when it occurs.
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