Launcher, the spacecraft delivery company, has reported that not all went to plan following the successful lift-off of its Orbiter SN3 delivery spacecraft on the SpaceX Falcon 9 Transporter-8 mission on 12 June. Orbiter SN3 apparently successfully separated from the rocket. However, shortly afterwards telemetry showed it to be in a spin with a high rate of rotation. The cause was a faulty onboard attitude control system. Fearful that the spin would prevent the solar panels from charging the battery, leading to a cut in communications, Launcher decided to deploy all of its four client satellites early from the TRL11 deployer/dispenser aboard Orbiter SN3.
For three of the spacecraft – MDQSAT-1C and -1D store/forward pocket-cubesats and the educational cubesat Pleiades Squared – there were no issues and all were deployed successfully. However, for Otter Pup, a larger 37 kg technology test satellite, an irrecoverable spin was imparted to the cubesat which is now thought to be unusable.
Orbiter SN3 later ran out of power, which precluded it being used as a docking target for Otter Pup – if it finds a way to recover itself. The root cause of the anomaly appears to be software in nature.