Falcon 9 Launches ORBCOMM Satellites

Falcon 9 second stage engine burn.
Falcon 9 second stage engine burn.

UPDATE 2: Elon Musk Tweeted: Rocket booster reentry, landing burn & leg deploy were good, but lost hull integrity right after splashdown (aka kaboom)

UPDATE: ORBCOMM has confirmed that all six satellites have been successfully deployed. The orbit was exactly what was planned.

SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket into orbit from Cape Canaveral this morning. The rocket carries six ORBCOMM communications satellites, which at the moment are still attached to the second stage. Deployment will follow.

Also awaiting word on the success of soft-landing the first stage on the ocean. Updates as we get them.

  • Michael J. Listner

    Good to see Space X flying again.

  • windbourne

    Good to see.
    Now the question is, how will the next set of rockets do?
    SpaceX needs to focus on getting their production line really moving.
    Do not get me wrong.
    I really want to see Rider and FH fly soon, but high quality production and repeatability really needs to be displayed.

  • Hug Doug

    The problem isn’t in their production line. They’ve said they are on pace to produce 14 to 16 Falcon 9 rocket cores this year. I believe they’ve said in the past they could produce up to 24 cores per year. So having the rockets available isn’t a problem – the problem lies in actually getting the rockets launched.

    Canaveral is really busy, with many launch providers launching there, and as we’ve seen, one delay sends a ripple effect down the schedule.

    The real test for SpaceX will be in a couple of years, when they get their Texas launch facility up and running, where they are in control of the launch site operations and schedule.

  • therealdmt

    Can’t wait to hear about the first stage recovery effort!

  • Michael Vaicaitis

    Elon Musk Tweeted:
    “Rocket booster reentry, landing burn & leg deploy were good, but lost hull integrity right after splashdown (aka kaboom)”
    “Detailed review of rocket telemetry needed to tell if due to initial splashdown or subsequent tip over and body slam”

  • Douglas Messier

    Ummm….they had back to back helium leaks with two rockets. And other technical issues. No sense in turning out launch vehicles with problems that cause long delays at the launch site.

  • Hug Doug

    I was under the impression that the issues were minor.

    Unless they need to dramatically re-design their helium systems, there’s little point in halting all production.

  • Douglas Messier

    No. They were not minor. SpaceX brought helium tank production in-house instead of farming it out as they had before. Then they started having problems with leaks. So, if they have produced a bunch of launch vehicles with in-house helium tanks, they may have more serious problems.

  • windbourne

    when I speak of production, I am not speaking of manufacturing, but production of what they do: Launches. The manufacturing of launch vehicles and parts is simply part of the production.

  • Michael Vaicaitis

    Well they’ve had 5 successful launches now with the leaky helium hardware. Perhaps it is an assembly, rather than design, issue. Whatever the nature of the leak problems, there was no sign of them today. No need to panic quite yet.

  • windbourne

    nobody is panicking, BUT, at the same, SpaceX needs this production line moving smoothly.
    Basically, SpaceX needs to show that they can launch at a steady production. Hopefully, they have solved this issue.

  • Hug Doug

    That sounds far more problematic than I had thought. At the very least, they would need to find and fix the problems with their Helium tanks and associated sub-systems. But if all of their tanks turn out to be faulty, they may very well need to scrap them and design and produce new ones. That would certainly stop production in its tracks.

  • Hug Doug

    I think we can make a distinction between the production of the hardware and the logistics of getting it to the launch site, prepped, and put into space. It’s not all the same thing.

    I don’t know of anyone who would refer to a customer purchasing and driving a truck off the lot as part of Chevrolet’s production line.

    It’s certainly a necessary part of the process, yes, but it is separate from production.

  • windbourne

    Fine Doug. You can play semantics.
    In the mean time, you know that what I wrote was correct.
    SpaceX has a long list of launches and they need to get these done.

  • Hug Doug

    It’s not semantics, more like Business 101. Your comment made it clear that you didn’t know what “production line” meant (or at the very least, showed that you did not use it correctly), specifically that it is, “an arrangement in a factory in which a thing being manufactured is passed through a set linear sequence of mechanical or manual operations.”

    It refers to the manufacture of a thing, not its operation.

    You can’t just take words and phrases with a set meaning and change them willy-nilly, otherwise nobody would be sure of what anyone else is talking about.

    I understood what you meant, and what you mean, but that doesn’t change that what you said is not quite correct.

    My apologies if I come off as being a Grammar Nazi here but the incorrect use of words and phrases bothers me a lot.

  • Tonya

    Sorry, have to agree with HD, that’s some mighty strange semantics. You wouldn’t manufacture a launch, anymore than an airline would manufacture a flight. You would provide a launch.

    SpaceX is a vertically integrated company, production and operations are parts of that chain. Calling problem on the operations side a production problem is simply confusing.

  • Tonya

    The real problem is that they are only finding these problems at the pad. It sounds like they are learning lessons about assembly and quality control with these parts the hard way.

  • BeanCounterFromDownUnder

    Well done SpaceX and ORBCOMM. That’s 10 for 10 for primary payloads and only a test secondary loss on the first F9 flight. This is a great start for SpaceX and it seems like they’re finding and correcting issues before any impact on their missions.

  • Robert Gishubl

    That depends on the cause of the problems. Is it a result of the action of preparing the vehicle for launch on site or is it a fault from parts/assembly or is it a design issue is only evident once it is fully fuelled and pressurised? ie bent/broken on site is incorrect service at launch, faulty factory part or assembly should have been found in Factory test is a QA problem or it is caused by differential expansion/contraction of components due to pressure and temperature it is a design problem.
    It may be a relatively simple fix or it may be a major issue. Without more information on exactly what the fault is and its cause you can not apportion responsibility to a particular stage of the process.
    Irrespective if it is a service, QA or design issue it is a SpaceX problem they need to solve.

  • windbourne

    Check economics:

    Production is a process of combining various material inputs and immaterial inputs (plans, know-how) in order to make something for consumption (the output). It is the act of creating output, a good or service which has value and contributes to the utility of individuals.

  • Hug Doug

    That’s all well and good, except you said “production line,” which really does have a distinct connotation of the manufacturing of a thing.

    “Production” is a really, really generic term. There’s a whole bunch of different kinds of production.

  • Tonya

    Plus “manufactures to launch”, which is verging on management gobbledegook.

    I’ll put it more simply. If I phoned up the SpaceX switchboard now and asked to speak to “someone in production”, I won’t be put through to anyone on the launch team, or receive the reply “but that could be anyone, we all produce goods and services of some kind!”

  • Geobram

    I’m surprised that they are unable to check for the problem before the rocket is upright on the launchpad. You would think that they know at least how and where to check for the leak right after assembly instead of right before launch. That would save a lot of time and money.