Thursday, October 18, 2012

Recent Satellite Launches from Around the World

Technician works on the Orbcomm satellite. Credit: Sierra Nevada Corp.

The big focus for space enthusiasts lately has been the remarkable mission of SpaceX's Dragon capsule to the ISS. While the station resupply effort went well, the secondary payload on the Falcon 9 rocket ended in failure.  Due to a malfunctioning engine, other engines on the Falcon rocket overcompensated and burned longer than planned, resulting in the wrong orbital placement of the OrbComm satellite. Built by the Sierra Nevada Corporation, Orbcomm was an engineering test vehicle to help establish a new network of communication satellites. This example was a prototype, designed to test how the system would react in its orbital environment. There are 18 small satellites planned for the system, all due to be launched on Falcon 9 rockets. Unfortunately, the wrong orbit placement caused the Orbcomm to fail its mission and it de-orbited. NASA and SpaceX engineers are investigating the failure while company executives plan a way to continue this mission.

Meanwhile, there have been other launches around the world.

Delta 4 launch from pad 37 at Cape Canaveral, October 4. On board was the GPS 2F-3 satellite. This was a replacement satellite for an older one in the GPS system we all rely on.  The satellite reached its intended orbit just fine. Credit: Pat Corkery/ULA.

A Russian Soyuz rocket lifted off from the European Space Agency's French Guiana launch site on October 12. It carried a pair of satellites for the Galileo navigation system, which affects many drivers, airplanes, and ships around the world. Successful placement of satellites. Credit: ESA.

On Sunday October 14, China launched a Long March 2C rocket from the Taiyuan space facility. It carried two Shijuan-9 engineering test satellites into space to study new satellite test equipment. This photo is of a previous Long March launch. Credit from Chinese News Agency.

A Russian Proton blasted off from the Baikonur site in Kazakhstan on Sunday October 14. It carried an Intelsat telecommunications satellite into orbit. Credit: Krunichev.

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