The SpaceX Dragon capsule is currently on the way to the International Space Station, but today we found out that the launch didn't exactly go as smoothly as planned. A little over one minute into the launch, the Falcon 9 rocket lost one of its engines. We were told that this little issue won't affect the mission to the ISS, but now Orbcomm is saying that the engine loss had some unintended consequences for the launch of one of its OG2 telecommunications satellites.
Didn't know that the Falcon 9 rocket was also carrying a satellite? You'd be forgiven, considering that it wasn't talked about all that often before the Dragon's launch last night. The plan was to have the satellite launch into orbit after leaving Earth's atmosphere on the back of the Falcon 9, but apparently, the OG2 missed its target because of the engine loss.
Orbcomm said in a statement today that the satellite was launched into a lower orbit than what was intended - NBC News reports that instead of the planned 350-by-750-kilometer orbit, the OG2 satellite is now in a 203-by-323-kilometer orbit. Orbcomm said today that it, along with engineers from the Sierra Nevada Corporation, are currently in contact with the satellite to see if they can get the OG2 to rise in orbit, and if such a move is even possible in the first place.
This was the first of 18 OG2 satellites that will be carried into space aboard a Falcon 9 rocket. By mid-2013, 8 more of these satellites will be in space, while the rest will be carried out of Earth's atmosphere by 2014. The first satellite launch is off to something of a rocky start, so here's hoping that the subsequent 17 launches will go a little bit better.