На некоторых фото имеются на поверхности сопел не только сажа, но и похоже частички грунта, которые буквально привариваются к поверхности. И очистится от них будет посложнее, чем от сажи. Может имеет смысл подумать на предмет снижения эрозии грунта, всякие летающие горячие частички грунта не подарок.
The upcoming launch of 90 small satellites aboard Spaceflight’s Sherpa tug atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is widely viewed as a pioneering effort to establish a regular and reliable access to space for the smallsat industry.
But for one commercial smallsat operator, machine-to-machine satellite messaging provider Orbcomm, the Sherpa launch is a threat.
Orbcomm has asked U.S. regulators to stop the launch until Spaceflight demonstrates that releasing 90 satellites — most of them without on-board propulsion — into a single elliptical orbital plane overlapping Orbcomm’s constellation does not raise orbital-collision issues.
Orbcomm has been negotiating directly with smallsat operators Planet and Spire Global, both of San Francisco, on a solution. Planet and Spire combined are expected to account for a majority of the 90-satellite payload.
In petitions to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, Orbcomm argues that the risk of collision or orbital debris creation posed by the Sherpa mission is too high to allow the flight to occur without a thorough vetting of the issues.
It’s not just the possibility of a collision. Also of concern is that the proximity of the Sherpa satellites to Orbcomm’s operating constellation could result in a snowstorm of “conjunction alerts” by the U.S. Air Force, which tracks orbital debris and satellite flight patterns and alerts operators in advance of close calls.
For Orbcomm, a scenario in which the company receives a constant barrage of conjunction warnings and then must decide — sometimes within an hour — whether to change a satellite’s trajectory is not a good outcome.
This is especially true since few of the Spaceflight customers on the Sherpa mission are able to maneuver their satellites in orbit, putting the onus on Orbcomm to move its satellite or run the risk of a collision.
Satellite operators cite many occasions in which the Air Force has sent out alerts that, on further assessment by the satellite owners, do not warrant collision-avoidance maneuvers. These maneuvers carry the added risk that, by changing a satellite’s course — especially in the low Earth orbit where Orbcomm and the Spaceflight customers expect to operate — Orbcomm may create a new collision risk with a satellite or a piece of debris.
In recent weeks, Orbcomm says it and Planet have crafted an agreement that could serve as a template for an Orbcomm-Spire Global agreement.
That leaves Spaceflight. The company’s success as a launch-service provider for small satellite owners willing to submit to a common schedule to secure affordable launches on large rockets is viewed as important for the smallsat industry, which in the past several years has been the most dynamic niche of the commercial satellite industry. The Sherpa model, industry officials say, is not limited to SpaceX. It could be adapted to United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5, Europe’s Ariane 5 and Russia’s Proton.
But herding multiple owners, many with small operating budgets and limited personnel, onto a single mission is no easy task. How much leverage Spaceflight has to insist on detailed in-orbit performance from all its customers is unclear.
Already the industry has seen how Europe’s Arianespace launch-service provider struggles to accommodate just two customers on a single Ariane 5. Multiply that by a few dozen to see what Spaceflight is confronting.
That may account for what Orbcomm says is Spaceflight’s refusal to discuss the matter. Orbcomm told the FCC that its “ongoing efforts to collaboratively engage with Spaceflight… continue to be rebuffed by Spaceflight.”
Rochelle Park, New Jersey-based Orbcomm recently declined to comment on the issue beyond its FCC pleadings, saying it was “trying to understand the risks.”
Spaceflight President Curt Blake, in a statement, said:
“Because the issue is in front of the FCC currently, it’s not appropriate for us to elaborate other than to say we’re supportive of our mission customers. We are continuing to help the process, as requested, to resolve the situation and hope an acceptable solution is reached soon. We believe the Sherpa mission is groundbreaking and beneficial to the newspace industry as a whole.”
Orbcomm’s second-generation satellites were built by Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) of Sparks, Nevada. It is a showcase contract for SNC. The company’s corporate vice president, Mark Sirangelo, said the system was designed with debris mitigation as a high priority.
“We launched 17 250-kilogram satellites in the past year,” Sirangelo said of the Orbcomm contract. “Every one has the ability to deorbit itself, with a certain amount of fuel that remains and a protocol so that even if we cannot communicate with the satellite, it autonomously takes itself off line, to bring itself down.
“If there is a period of time of non-communication — when the satellite is in an orbit or a motion that is outside of the typical range, or if there are no communications going through the satellite — there are a series of fail-safes that are self-contained within the software.”
Sirangelo conceded that if an Orbcomm satellite was slammed into and its software disabled, “then you can’t do much.”
Orbcomm’s delighted with Verizon’s IoT valuation but plays down AIS wins by Peter B. de Selding — August 5, 2016
Orbcomm Chief Executive Marc J. Eisenberg said his company is on track to reach $200 million in annual revenue this year and is particularly optimistic about its relationship with CIMC of China. Credit: Space News file photo.
PARIS – Satellite machine-to-machine and Internet of Things services provider Orbcomm Inc. on Aug. 4 reported double-digit increases in quarterly revenue and gross profit and said its recent agreement with a Chinese conglomerate could open a vast new market for the company. Rochelle Park, New Jersey-based Orbcomm, which has been growing both organically and through a series of small and midsize acquisitions, recently received an indirect boost to its business with cellular network provider Verizon’s planned $2.4 billion purchase of Dublin, Ireland-based Fleetmatics. Fleetmatics, whose U.S. division is based in Boston, expects to report $344 million in revenue in 2016, with an EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, equivalent to 33 percent of revenue. Verizon’s bid, expected to close by the end of this year, is thus for seven times projected 2016 revenue. “W love the valuation that Verizon gave,” Orbcomm Chief Executive Marc J. Eisenberg said in a conference call with investors, adding that Verizon appeared to be adopting Orbcomm’s strategy of rolling up smaller niche-market companies, if on a larger scale. Orbcomm expects to report $200 million in revenue in 2016, with an EBITDA margin of 33 percent. Fleetmatics provides connectivity solutions generally to small transport fleets, whereas Orbcomm focuses on the cargo side of its markets. But the companies share a focus on connecting the Internet of Things. Orbcomm operates a fleet of 41 satellites in low Earth orbit and connects transport cargo through both terrestrial cellular and satellite links through small subscriber modules. Orbcomm is also a reseller of higher-speed satellite connectivity using London-based Inmarsat’s fleet of larger satellites. As of June 30, Orbcomm said it had 1.65 million billable subscribers, a 27 percent increase over a year ago.
A China partner that’s welcome now, and potentially large later Eisenberg said Orbcomm’s relationship with China International Marine Containers (CIMC), which he said is the world’s largest manufacturer of shipping containers, starts relatively small could position Orbcomm for bigger things in China and elsewhere. In the three months ending June 30, CIMC ordered another 1,000 Orbcomm modem chipsets for a series of pilot projects that will go commercial in 2017. The CIMC business will total “”in the low tens of thousands of units in the next couple of years and then go on from there,” Eisenberg said. “They build 2.5 million containers a year. They are owned by Cosco [China Ocean Shipping Co.], which is the Chinese Maersk, and by Chinese banks. CIMC is our partner in China. They’re helping us get Chinese licenses for Orbcomm.” Orbcomm reported total revenue of $50.1 million for the three months ending June 30, up 12 percent from a year ago. Sales increases were reported for both the services and product divisions. Adjusted EBITDA was $12.1 million, up 17 percent. The company narrowed its operating loss to $1.6 million from $11.6 million for the same period in 2015. The increases came despite continued softness in Orbcomm’s government and heavy-equipment markets, and in Brazil. Iin addition to tracking assets fitted with Orbcomm SIM cards, the company operates an Automatic Identification System (AIS) service that collects maritime traffic data on ship identity, heading and speed on the satellites and then relays it to coastal authorities. Despite Eisenberg’s repeated insistence that AIS was never going to be a market with hundreds of millions of dollars of annual revenue, the sector has attracted multiple private sector and government players.
AIS wins are good, but it’s a modest market On Aug. 1, Orbcomm and its partner, LuxSpace of Luxembourg, an affiliate of OHB SE of Germany – a satellite and rocket component builder and also a longtime Orbcomm shareholder – announced they had won a contract with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), located in Lisbon, Portugal. The heavily competed contract is valued at up to 10.2 million euros ($11.2 million) over four years starting late this year. Eisenberg said Orbcomm’s share of the contract is about 50 percent, with the rest going to LuxSpace. LuxSpace designs its own small satellites for AIS. LuxSpace previously concluded a partnership with Orbcomm competitor exactEarth of Canada to build and launch an AIS satellite for EMSA and the 22-nation European Space Agency. Eisenberg said the EMSA contract win and an earlier AIS contract with Louisville, Kentucky-based Genscape, a provider of energy information for the commodity, shipping and financial markets, has positioned Orbcomm as the market leader. Eisenberg cautioned investors not to get overly excited about this. “Eight years ago we said this was a science project with 1-2 satellites and a $1 million or $2 million business,” Eisenberg said. “Then after our launch we thought it would be a $5 million to $7 million business and we’re trending to $6 million now. All in, we see it as a $10 million to $15 million a year business. “It’s funny: We’re talking down the estimates versus what our competitors do — ‘It’s a half-a-billion-dollar business!’ It’s not. I hope I’m wrong,” he said.
– Total Revenues of $50.1 Million Increase 12% and Service Revenues Grow 15%, Over Prior Year – – Adjusted EBITDA of $12.1 Million, Increases 17% Over Prior Year – – Company Adds Over 41,000 Net Subscriber Communicators in the Quarter –
Three Orbcomm OG2 satellites malfunctioning, fate to be determined by Caleb Henry — August 3, 2017
Failures in Orbcomm's second generation (OG2) constellation have reduced it fr om 18 satellites to 12 and prompted Orbcomm to start mulling an OG3. Credit: SNC.
WASHINGTON — Three satellites in Orbcomm’s recently launched fleet of low-Earth orbit satellites have ceased communicating, reducing the operator’s second-generation constellation by a third of its envisioned strength if not recovered. Anomalies occurring almost once a month since April have sidelined the satellites one by one, but have not jeopardized service for customers relying on them to carry machine-to-machine and internet-of-things data, Marc Eisenberg, Orbcomm CEO told investors Aug. 3. With only 12 of 18 satellites now operating as planned, Eisenberg said Orbcomm is planning a smaller batch of third-generation satellites coined OG3 that will serve as a gapfiller. “There has been little effect on message delivery times, and no impact on message throughput and revenue,” Eisenberg said during the conference call. “We’ve established a comprehensive investigation team that includes independent consultants as well as Orbcomm engineering and OG2 contractors to determine root cause and associated corrective measures. Each satellite carries a book value of about $10 million, and our goal is to recover all three satellites.” Orbcomm’s first OG2 satellite reentered the Earth’s atmosphere after a brief period in orbit caused by an underperformed SpaceX Falcon 9 launch in 2012 (one of the rocket’s nine Merlin first-stage engines ceased functioning prematurely, leaving the satellite in too low of an orbit). The next 17 satellites launched on two SpaceX Falcon 9s — six satellites in 2014 and 11 satellites in 2015, of which two more experienced anomalies and stopped working. In an Aug. 3 filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Orbcomm said an OG2 satellite that had gone into a “safe mode” after a 2016 solar array anomaly went radio-silent this April. “Our satellite engineering team has developed and uploaded new software designed to prevent a similar solar array anomaly from occurring on other OG2 satellites,” Orbcomm wrote. But then in June 2017 another OG2 satellite stopped communicating, followed by another in July 2017. Sierra Nevada Corp. in Sparks, Nevada, was the prime contractor for the OG2 constellation. “Each OG2 satellite has the capacity of over six OG1 satellites, and the resiliency of the entire constellation’s increased capacity enables us to reposition satellites in the event of these circumstances, which reduces the impact on network service,” Eisenberg said. “OG2 satellites process about 80 percent of the network’s message traffic, which now totals approximately 1.2 million messages per day. Overall our customers continue to be pleased with the network’s performance and quality of service.” An Inmarsat solution?
Eisenberg said collaborating with London-based Inmarsat, a mobile satellite services operator Orbcomm tightened partnership with in 2013, has taken precedence over new satellites so that Orbcomm can invest more in user hardware, such as modems. “As opposed to a backup plan being more satellites, the backup plan became an Inmarsat plan … we kind of moved into that and it became the OG3 plan wh ere OG3 is this mix of the two constellations,” he said. Orbcomm and Inmarsat have already been collaborating on customer equipment, with Inmarsat benefiting from LEO access to areas its geostationary satellites have difficulty reaching, and Orbcomm benefiting from the lower latency of Inmarsat’s constellation. In an Aug. 3 email to SpaceNews, Eisenberg said the gaps between passes from Orbcomm satellites creates latency measurable “in minutes,” but Orbcomm IsatData Pro terminals, which can connect to Inmarsat I-4 L-band satellites, have latencies of “about 15 seconds.” Eisenberg told SpaceNews OG3 will likely be in a high-latitude orbital plane. During the investor call, he said OG3 will have “only a few satellites,” placed “in a polar orbit because it supplements Inmarsat and [OG2] satellites.” Eisenberg said Orbcomm and Inmarsat have co-built a radio-frequency integrated circuit that Inmarsat is using for BGAN, or broadband global area network terminals, and Orbcomm is using for IsatData Pro. Initial shipments started during the fourth quarter of last year, he said. Eisenberg said Orbcomm is not planning to file an insurance claim if the three faltering OG2 satellites are lost, because the satellites were covered for launch plus one year in orbit. A recent inquiry into additional coverage had too high of a deductible, he said, and wouldn’t help Orbcomm’s current situation. “We wouldn’t have gotten a dime anyway, so it just wasn’t an insurance event,” he said.
Inthinc gives keys to vehicle market
Orbcomm says its June purchase of Inthinc, a vehicle telematics, fleet management and driver safety company in Salt Lake City, added $900,000 to revenue for the three weeks it contributed to the financial quarter ended June 30. Eisenberg said $700,000 of that was service revenue, and that Inthinc was limited by an inability to produce sufficient hardware for its customers. The company should add 4,000 subscribers in the next quarter and more than 13,000 by year’s end, he said. “In our transportation business, many of our customers have demands for fleet-vehicle telematics products, and our strategy is to be a one-stop supplier for all transportation needs,” he said. “The acquisition of Inthinc, which we completed in June provides an excellent entry point into the vehicle fleet market, and helps fill the need in our product portfolio.” Eisenberg said demand for its hardware products is at an all time high and climbing — Orbcomm shipped a record 69,000 devices this quarter, and could ship around 90,000 over the next three months. He said Orbcomm is working on over 140 new products, of which 20 or more should roll out between now and 2018. Orbcomm generated $57 million in revenue, a 13.8 percent year over year increase, and gained 62,000 net subscribers. The company’s total billable subscriber count reached 1.83 million, up 10.8 percent from last year’s 1.65 million.