WASHINGTON — Orbcomm said Dec. 27 that the VesselSat2 maritime-tracking satellite it will use to supplement its planned constellation of Automatic Identification System (AIS) satellites has been delivered to China in preparation for a Jan. 12 launch.

The 29-kilogram microsatellite will be lofted into polar orbit aboard a Long March 4 rocket lifting off from China’s Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center.

Orbcomm, a Fort Lee, N.J.-based company focused on two-way machine-to-machine communications, is the exclusive licensee for the AIS data collected by VesselSat2 and VesselSat1, which was launched into equatorial orbit in October aboard the Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle carrying the Indo-French Megha Tropiques satellite. Both VesselSat microsatellites were built by Luxembourg-based LuxSpace Sarl, an affiliate of OHB System AG.

The two VesselSat craft will supplement a constellation of 18 next-generation, AIS-enabled Orbcomm satellites now under construction.

Brian Berger is editor in chief of SpaceNews.com and the SpaceNews magazine. He joined SpaceNews.com in 1998, spending his first decade with the publication covering NASA. His reporting on the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia accident was...