SpaceX recently announced that it will launch commercial satellites for telecommunications firm Orbcomm on December, using the Falcon 9 rocket.
“We are excited to launch our 11 OG2 satellites aboard SpaceX’s newly upgraded Falcon 9 rocket and have full confidence in SpaceX and their dedication to this launch,” Marc Eisenberg, Orbcomm’s chief executive, said according to a press release.
SpaceX and Orbcomm had already worked together: the company launched the first six satellites for Orbcomm in 2014. The SpaceX program selected satellites from Orbcomm because the launch would not require the Falcon 9 rocket to make a secondary burn in the engine to reach the orbit.
These satellites are designed to keep track of industrial vehicles, machines, and oil and gas equipment, being considerably smaller than other satellites, as they “float” in low orbits.
The company upgraded the Falcon 9 rocket, redesigning it to make it more powerful. SpaceX announced an agreement with two satellite companies to switch the dates of its next two launches, so they could perform a special test, according to the L.A. Times.
After launching for Orbcomm, the next step for SpaceX is to conduct testing on their upper-stage engine in orbit too, making them able to carry satellites over 22,000 miles above the Earth.
The Falcon 9 was scheduled to liftoff in June this year, to deliver supplies to the International Space Station, but it exploded minutes after the launch from Cape Canaveral. The explosion occurred when a liquid oxygen tank of the rocket broke during take-off, although the investigation hasn’t been closed yet.
According to The Wall Street Journal, The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration are monitoring the mission in order to get to the root of the failure.
During all these months preparing the launches, CEO Elon Musk nor other SpaceX officials reported internal questions or doubts about the functioning of the Falcon 9 rocket. In fact, the company stated that a series of tests are going to be completed before launch, saying that their efforts “will further validate the second-stage relight system,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
“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,” concludes Orbcomm’s press release.