Mission typePlasma research
OperatorUSAF Academy
Mission durationFailed to orbit
Spacecraft properties
ManufacturerSSTL (bus)
Launch mass19.5 kilograms (43 lb)
Start of mission
Launch date24 March 2006, 22:30 (2006-03-24UTC22:30Z) UTC
RocketFalcon 1
Launch siteOmelek
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeLow Earth
Perigee altitude400 kilometres (250 mi)
Apogee altitude500 kilometres (310 mi)
Inclination39 degrees

FalconSAT-2 (FS 2, COSPAR 2006-F01) was a satellite built by students of the United States Air Force Academy as part of the FalconSAT program. It was intended to have been placed into low Earth orbit to study the effects of plasma on communications with spacecraft,[1] however it failed to reach orbit due to a malfunction of its carrier rocket.[2]

The FalconSAT-2 program started in late 2000, as a follow-up to FalconSAT-1.[2] The spacecraft was based on a bus constructed by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, with the experiments being constructed at the USAF Academy.[2] The primary instrument aboard FalconSAT-2 was the Miniaturized Electrostatic Analyzer, or MESA. It was originally scheduled to be deployed from Space Shuttle Atlantis, on mission STS-114 in early 2003. Following the Columbia accident this mission was delayed, and FalconSAT-2 was removed from the Shuttle manifest.

FalconSAT-2 was assigned as the payload for the maiden flight of the Falcon 1 rocket, which was launched from Omelek Island at 22:30 GMT on 24 March 2006.[3] At launch, a corroded nut caused an engine fire, leading to the failure of the engine 25 seconds into the flight.[4] The rocket fell into the Pacific Ocean close to the launch site. FalconSAT-2 was thrown clear of the rocket, and landed in a storage shed on Omelek Island, just a few feet from its own shipping container.[2]

See also


  1. ^ Krebs, Gunter. "FalconSat 2". Gunter's Space Page. Archived from the original on 2011-03-11. Retrieved 2009-07-20.
  2. ^ a b c d France, Marty; Lawrence, Tim. "FalconSAT-2 Launched (and Recovered)" (PDF). United States Air Force Academy. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2015-09-21. Retrieved 2013-03-15.
  3. ^ McDowell, Jonathan. "Launch Log". Jonathan's Space Page. Archived from the original on 2018-01-23. Retrieved 2009-07-20.
  4. ^ Stephen, Clark (2008-08-02). "Falcon 1 to launch today". Spaceflight Now. Archived from the original on 2009-12-16. Retrieved 2009-07-20.