Next Falcon 9 Launch Slips into June

OG2 satellite (Credit: SNC)
OG2 satellite (Credit: SNC)

OBCOMM says that the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch with six advanced OG2 satellites has now slipped to June 11, with a June 12 backup date.

“We will be sending the satellite launch teams from both ORBCOMM and Sierra Nevada Corporation to the Cape the first week of June for fairing encapsulation followed by a static fire test to be conducted two to three days prior to launch,” OBCOMM said in an update posted on its website on Monday.

SpaceX had earlier set a May 27 date after the launch had slipped from earlier in May. The latest delay indicates that SpaceX was overly ambitious when it set out to launch 10 Falcon 9s this year. To date, it has only managed two flights, one on Jan. 13 and another three months later on April 18.

The OG2 launch will be the 10th flight of a Falcon 9 booster in four years. The first launch occurred on June 4, 2010.

ORBCOMM is running years behind its original schedule in launching its constellation of advanced OG2 communications satellites, which are designed to supplement and eventually replace the earlier OG1 spacecraft.

The original plan was to launch a group of 18 satellites between 2010 and 2014 on SpaceX’s much smaller Falcon 1e rocket. However, SpaceX elected not to develop that booster, so the satellites were shifted to the Falcon 9, which has significant schedule slippages over the years.

SpaceX launched an OG2 prototype as a secondary payload aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on Oct. 7, 2012. The satellite ended up in a lower than expected orbit due to an in-flight failure of one of the launch vehicle’s nine engines. ORBCOMM was able to conduct tests on the spacecraft before it burned up in the atmosphere two days after launch.