[Satnews] ORBCOMM Inc. (Nasdaq: ORBC) has announced that the company and SpaceX plan to launch eleven OG2 satellites from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on the next launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which is targeted to occur within the next six to eight weeks.
SpaceX successfully launched ORBCOMM’s first OG2 mission of six satellites on July 14, 2014. This next dedicated launch will mark ORBCOMM’s second and final OG2 mission, completing its next generation satellite constellation.
Sierra Nevada Corporation, the prime contractor and spacecraft bus manufacturer for ORBCOMM’s OG2 satellites, has completed all factory acceptance testing and is preparing the satellites for shipping to Cape Canaveral at the end of October.
ORBCOMM’s OG2 satellites are far more advanced than its current OG1 satellites and are designed to provide customers with significant enhancements, such as faster message delivery, larger message sizes and better coverage at higher latitudes, while drastically increasing network capacity. In addition, the OG2 satellites are equipped with an Automatic Identification System (AIS) payload to receive and report transmissions from AIS-equipped vessels for ship tracking and other maritime navigational and safety efforts, increasing asset visibility and the probability of detection for ORBCOMM’s AIS customers.
“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 Chief Executive Officer. “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.”
“As we prepare for return to flight, SpaceX together with its customers SES and Orbcomm have evaluated opportunities to optimize 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 optimization 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.”