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Launcher Orbiter SN1 Mission Update

Orbiter SN1 at the SpaceX Payload Processing Facility in December 2022. Credit: Launcher

Ibadan, 20 February 2023. – On January 3, 2023, at 09:55 ET, Launcher successfully launched its first spacecraft (Orbiter SN1) to orbit aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 (Transporter-6). Upon successful separation on Launcher’s 24” separation system, the spacecraft powered up and communicated to the ground (command uplink and telemetry downlink) during its first scheduled ground station pass. The Company also communicated with the vehicle for the duration of the expected battery life.

However, after that time, the vehicle stopped operating as Launcher could not generate power from its solar panels due to an orientation control issue caused by a fault in its GPS antenna system. As a result, while achieving many internal mission objectives in developing the Orbiter spacecraft and collecting critical data from the successful on-orbit operation, Launcher failed to deploy customer payloads.

In terms of improvements for the next flight, Launcher has designed an improved GPS radio and antenna subsystem and is also taking steps in software development to ensure that a repeated GPS failure would not have any fatal impact on its mission. Other improvements also include an improved GNC software and robust spacecraft safe mode, a fully implemented backup customer spacecraft separation system, and an improved Orbiter’s battery charger to allow charging and recovery in nearly all spacecraft anomalous events, as well as doubling the battery capacity.

Taking all of this into consideration, Launcher has scheduled its next space this year with Orbiter SN3 in June 2023 (SpaceX Transporter-8) and again in October 2023 (SpaceX Transporter-9).

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