Dragon Launch Engine Failure Caused OG2 Satellite to Deorbit and Burn in the Atmosphere [Video]

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket had an engine failure during launch

By Lucian Parfeni on October 12th, 2012 09:10 GMT

The Falcon 9 rocket that carried the Dragon capsule into space had other payloads as well, specifically Orbcomm's Generation 2 (OG2) satellite, a prototype communication satellite. Falcon experienced an engine malfunction during launch which made for some spectacular YouTube footage.

One of the nine engines that give Falcon 9 its name malfunctioned, was shut down and jettisoned automatically as part of the safety procedure.

The rocket carried on as if nothing had happened, the other eight engines were run for longer to compensate. Dragon made it into orbit and is now safely docked at the International Space Station.

OG2 wasn't so lucky, because of the lost engine, the satellite was put into a lower orbit than intended and has subsequently fallen down back to Earth.

The satellite was dropped in a lower orbit as part of a NASA safety procedure which mandated it in the case of engine failure, to make sure the Dragon reached the ISS.

Orbcomm's engineers still managed to get something out of the launch, much of the hardware and components were tested while in orbit and performed as intended.

Still, the satellite burned up in the atmosphere on its launch day with the company declaring it a total loss. Luckily, insurance covered most of the costs.

"After telemetry and command capability was established, several critical system verifications were performed. The solar array and communications payload antenna deployments were successful, along with verifying the performance of various components of both the OG2 satellite bus and the communications payload," Orbcomm explained.

"The OG2 satellite bus systems including power, attitude control, thermal and data handling were also tested to verify proper operation," it added.

This was the first OG2 launch with SpaceX's Falcon 9. More missions are planned, one in the middle of next year, the next in 2014. The first mission will carry eight OG2 satellites as its primary payload, the second will carry a further nine.



The Falcon 9 launch, watch for the explosion at 1:30
OG2 during testing
   OG2 during testing
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