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May 20, 2013

Falcon 9 To Elevate Orbcomm's Autumn into Orbit

By Peter B. Counter, TMCnet Contributing Writer


Orbcomm has been using machine to machine (M2M) satellite solutions for remote container tracking to great effect. The industry surrounding global automatic identification systems (AIS) is facing a growing demand, with over a 50 percent increase in container tracking system installations being reported over last year, and Orbcomm coming out among the most consolidated vendors. Expecting to better position itself, the AIS and satellite messaging provider is going to take a piggyback ride into space on the upgraded Falcon 9 rocket.

There are already two Orbcomm satellites circling the globe with dedicated AIS systems, but they are about to seem a lot less special once the 17 second-generation satellites currently being constructed by Sierra Nevada Corp. are ready to launch. Every one of the new orbital devices is outfitted with its own AIS system and will promise faster M2M communications.

The first eight of the next-generation satellites, which are built and ready for deployment, are expected to take flight between October and December if all goes as planned, with the remaining nine forecasted to join them by mid-2014.

The only thing keeping the satellites on the ground and from bringing improved services to Orbcomm’s 777,000 subscribers is the ride they’ll be taking. SpaceX’s (News - Alert) Falcon 9 rocket, which has launched Orbcomm technology in the past to varying degrees of success, has undergone some upgrades and is slated for an inaugural launch in July when the two-stage rocket will be carrying the Canadian Cassiope satellite into low polar orbit.

Once the initial launch has been completed, a second mission out of Cape Canaveral has the new and improved Falcon 9 booked for August. After that, though Orbcomm will be riding shotgun for both launches. The schedule of course is tentative, as space missions are synonymous with delays. The Orbcomm launch has already been delayed repeatedly, but things are beginning to look optimistic for a late 2013 date with Earth’s orbit.




Edited by Rory J. Thompson



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