Music publications get rolled and spun by one musician’s satellite claims

CPM TV launch

Interorbital System’s Common Propulsion Module Test Vehicle (CPM TV) lifts off from the Mojave Desert on March 29. The rocket’s payload included one for musician John Frusciante, but that satellite is not in orbit today. (credit: IOS)

If you read music publications, you might be forgiven in believing there’s been a major milestone in space commercialization. “On Saturday, March 29th, at a ‘remote High Desert location in California,’ the album was loaded onto the ‘experimental Cube Satellite’ Sat-JF14 and blasted into the great beyond onboard Interorbital Systems’ NEPTUNE Modular Rocket,” reported Rolling Stone on Monday, referring to a new album by John Frusciante, a former member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. “John Frusciante’s ‘Enclosure’ Album Is Streaming From Space,” proclaimed the headline of an article by SPIN on Monday.

Both publications got their news from a statement by Frusciante posted on his website which said that the satellite in question was “launched into space aboard an Interorbital Systems’ NEPTUNE Modular Rocket” on March 29. It also advertised an app that claims to track the satellite. “When Sat-JF14 hovers over a users’ geographic region, ENCLOSURE will be unlocked, allowing users to listen to the album for free on any iOS or Android mobile device,” his statement claims.

So, is there really a Sat-JF14 orbiting the Earth, broadcasting a rock musician’s latest album? Well, there was a launch on March 29 from the Mojave Desert by Interorbital Systems, the company announced. The company’s Common Propulsion Module Test Vehicle (CPM TV), powered by a 7,500-pound-force engine, lifted off from the Friends of Amateur Rocketry test site in the Mojave. Included in the rocket’s payloads was one for Frusicante.

The catch? Experimental Cube Satellite Sat-JF14, or whatever Frusicante’s payload was on that rocket, is not in orbit, nor was it even intended to be in orbit. “Due to a center of pressure anomaly, the rocket reached 10,000 feet, which was half of its calculated altitude,” the Interorbital statement notes. “The rocket’s health and recovery system adapted to the problem and returned the rocket and its payloads safely to the ground.” In other words, anyone listening to his album using that smartphone app while on a commercial airliner are several times higher above the ground than the “satellite” ever reached. (For those thinking this was an April Fools’ Day prank, note that this was announced, and the articles published, on March 31, not April 1.)

Setting Frusicante’s satellite claims aside, the launch was a major step forward for Interorbital, which in the last couple of years had limited its testing to static engine tests. The company is still planning to develop the NEPTUNE orbital launch system, although it didn’t indicate a schedule in its release for future tests, suborbital or orbital, for that rocket. As recently as last August, the company said it was planning to launch nearly 60 small satellites into orbit on a NEPTUNE in 2014, so it needs to keep making progress if it has any shot of achieving that goal.

1 comment to Music publications get rolled and spun by one musician’s satellite claims

  • Gary Warburton

    This is similar arrangement to John Carmack`s vehicle. I wish them all the best and hope they eventually make it to space.

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