The problem here is the rocket not the payload which is why the govt is not in a hurry to drop either the very reliable Delta IV or Atlas V for launching billion dollar satellites and Astrotech is generally the rocket payload processor of choice for both rockets. The govt will pay the extra expense to assure mission success. Remember Orbital Sciences have had two recent Taurus rocket failures which meant two payloads Astrotech worked on ended up in the oceans costing the govt hundreds of millions and it was due to poor rocket quality. The stupid clueless bashers here haven't got a clue about the true rocket hierarchy in the US and ULA (LMT and BA) are the true No.1 while SpaceX and Orbital are clear No.2s. They maybe more expensive but they are RELIABLE and ultimately the payload is more of the cost of a mission than the payload and worth paying the extra cost in using a more expensive rocket to ensure mission success.
There is a well known concept in rocket safety in which it is well understood that the simpler the rocket the safer it is. Falcon 9 has 9 first stage engines unlike Delta IV and Atlas V which both have just one. More can go wrong and obviously did this time. The other deal with SpaceX is that they change the configuration of their rocket almost every time it flies to try and improve the performance so no version has a long mission success history so you are almost flying a new rocket each time. SpaceX are very much seat of the pants fliers which is fine if you like the excitement but conservative customers with expensive payloads will continue to choose more proven solid stable designs like Atlas and Delta and their payload processor of choice, Astrotech. I like SpaceX a lot because they have come very far very quickly on not much money and power to them for that but they are not the second coming in space rocketry as Jim (mi2also) keeps telling their fanbois over at NSF. Horses for courses.
The Dragon spacecraft is on its way to the International Space Station this morning and is performing nominally following the launch of the SpaceX CRS-1 official cargo resupply mission from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 8:35PM ET Sunday, October 7, 2012.
Approximately one minute and 19 seconds into last night's launch, the Falcon 9 rocket detected an anomaly on one first stage engine. Initial data suggests that one of the rocket's nine Merlin engines, Engine 1, lost pressure suddenly and an engine shutdown command was issued. We know the engine did not explode, because we continued to receive data from it. Panels designed to relieve pressure within the engine bay were ejected to protect the stage and other engines. Our review of flight data indicates that neither the rocket stage nor any of the other eight engines were negatively affected by this event.
As designed, the flight computer then recomputed a new ascent profile in real time to ensure Dragon's entry into orbit for subsequent rendezvous and berthing with the ISS. This was achieved, and there was no effect on Dragon or the cargo resupply mission.
Falcon 9 did exactly what it was designed to do. Like the Saturn V (which experienced engine loss on two flights) and modern airliners, Falcon 9 is designed to handle an engine out situation and still complete its mission. No other rocket currently flying has this ability.
It is worth noting that Falcon 9 shuts down two of its engines to limit acceleration to 5 g's even on a fully nominal flight. The rocket could therefore have lost another engine and still completed its mission.
We will continue to review all flight data in order to understand the cause of the anomaly, and will devote the resources necessary to identify the problem and apply those lessons to future flights. We will provide additional information as it becomes available.
Dragon is expected to begin its approach to the station on October 10, where it will be grappled and berthed by Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Expedition 33 Commander Sunita Williams of NASA. Over the following weeks, the crew will unload Dragon's payload and reload it with cargo to be returned to Earth. Splashdown is targeted for October 28.
OG2 satellite’s insertion orbit lower than planned
ORBCOMM Inc. (ORBC), a global satellite data communications company focused on two-way Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications, today announced that the first prototype of its second generation of satellites (OG2) was launched on the Cargo Re-Supply Services (CRS-1) mission aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle from Cape Canaveral, FL, on October 7, 2012 at 8:35 pm EST. The OG2 prototype satellite, flying as a secondary payload on this mission, was separated from the Falcon 9 launch vehicle at approximately 9:00 pm EST. However, due to an anomaly on one of the Falcon 9’s first stage engines, the rocket did not comply with a pre-planned International Space Station (ISS) safety gate to allow it to execute the second burn. For this reason, the OG2 prototype satellite was deployed into an orbit that was lower than intended. ORBCOMM and Sierra Nevada Corporation engineers have been in contact with the satellite and are working to determine if and the extent to which the orbit can be raised to an operational orbit using the satellite’s on-board propulsion system.
In mid-2013, ORBCOMM plans to launch an additional eight OG2 satellites on a Falcon 9, which will be placed into orbits that are optimized to deliver the best coverage for the enhanced OG2 messaging services. The remainder of the constellation of 18 OG2 satellites is expected to be launched on a Falcon 9 in 2014. ORBCOMM’s OG2 satellites will be the primary payload on both of these two planned launches to directly insert the OG2 satellites into the operational orbit.