That wasn't supposed to hapen.
A space tug that launched on a SpaceX rideshare mission on June 12 started spinning uncontrollably after being deployed, causing its owner Launcher to lose yet another one of its vehicles.
The spacecraft, dubbed Orbiter SN3, which was designed to carry small satellites into their proper orbit after launch, failed to charge its batteries with its solar panels due to its rapid spin, Launcher explained in a statement.
It's yet another setback for Launcher. SN3 is the followup to Launcher's first spacecraft, called SN1, which was also lost after its launch back in February 2023 following a similar orientation control issue, as Space.com reports.
Unfortunately, Orbiter SN3 also carried the payloads of three other customers. Due to its spin, Launcher let the payloads go early, causing its primary payload, an on-orbit docking demonstration by space startup Otter Pup, to start spinning as well.
On the plus side, Launcher says it's identified the issue with SN3 and is ready to make some changes to try again with SN5, which is slated to launch on a SpaceX rideshare mission in February 2024.
"The anomaly appears to be software in nature," the company wrote in its statement. "We have begun the implementation of corrective action to ensure this anomaly does not occur again on future missions and that the vehicle is more robust to this type of error."
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