Behind The Black Postings By Robert Zimmerman

The competition heats up: It appears that SpaceX and Orbcomm have finalized their launch agreement.

On December 21, 2012, ORBCOMM Inc. (Nasdaq: ORBC) and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) entered into a Launch Services Agreement pursuant to which SpaceX will provide launch services for the carriage into low-Earth-orbit of up to 18 ORBCOMM second-generation commercial communications satellites currently being constructed by Sierra Nevada Corporation.

The agreement schedules the launches for sometime between the second quarter of 2013 and the second quarter of 2014, subject to normal scheduling changes.

This is a strong endorsement by Orbcomm of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, despite the engine problem which prevented an Orbcomm prototype satellite from reaching its correct orbit on the last Falcon 9 launch. Also, note that Sierra Nevada is building the satellites, thereby giving that company a firm foundations while it also builds its Dream Chaser manned spacecraft.

2 Comments
  1. Pzatchok says:

    Actually the engine problem did not stop the satellite from reaching orbit.

    NASA still controls all launches and NASA noticed the engine problem and made the call all on their own to abort the orbital insertion of the secondary payload.
    The rocket was designed and built to finish its mission with one missing engine. The others would just run longer. NASA does not engineer this way so didn’t trust the design.

    • Just to clarify, NASA does not control all launches. It controlled this particular launch because the Dragon capsule was the primary payload and the Orbcomm prototype was a secondary payload. In such a case, the owner of the primary payload always dictates what happens. Orbcomm accepted those conditions when it put its satellite on this Falcon 9 launch.

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