PARIS — A Russian Soyuz rocket launched six Globalstar mobile communications satellites July 13 into low Earth orbit in the second of four such launches that by late this year are expected to complete deployment of Globalstar’s second-generation constellation of 24 satellites, the satellites’ launch-services provider and manufacturer said.
Satellite builder Thales Alenia Space of France and Italy said the satellites were healthy in orbit following the deployment of their solar arrays, and were communicating with ground controllers.
Operating from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, a Soyuz rocket equipped with a Fregat upper stage dropped the six 650-kilogram Globalstar satellites at their intended orbit following two burns of the Fregat upper stage.
Covington, La.-based Globalstar’s first-generation constellation of 48 spacecraft has about lost its ability to provide two-way voice communications following what is suspected to be radiation-caused failures on the satellites, which were launched starting in the late 1990s. Globalstar satellites operate from an orbit of about 1,400 kilometers in altitude.
The company has been relying on eight first-generation satellites launched in 2007 to maintain limited voice service, and has been developing a range of data services to maintain a customer base while waiting for the arrival of the second-generation spacecraft.
A first batch of six second-generation Globalstar spacecraft was launched in October and since then has been gradually integrated into the existing constellation.
Launch-services provider Arianespace and its French-Russian partner, Starsem, are responsible for the Globalstar launches. Evry, France-based Arianespace said July 12 that despite the delays in this latest Globalstar launch — caused following discovery of a suspected problem with the satellites’ reaction wheels — the two final Globalstar launches are planned this year.
The second-generation satellites are designed to last for 15 years in the Globalstar orbit.
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