The Last Commercial Soyuz Launched from Baikonur Today

©Arianespace

The Soyuz with six Globalstar satellites on the launch pad at Baikonur.

Arianespace and their partners Starsem launched six Globalstar satellites this morning at 10:50 a.m. EST on a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

According to Anatoly Zak of the Russian Space Web "the launch will likely conclude more than two decades of commercial operations of the Soyuz rocket in Baikonur, yielding to a new launch facility in Kourou, French Guiana."

The Soyuz launch vehicle will be carrying six 650-kilogram Globalstar-2 satellites, which when commissioned will complete the second generation 24-satellite constellation. Globalstar provides mobile satellite voice and data services.

The second generation Globalstar spacecraft have a design life of 15 years, twice the lifespan of the first-generation Globalstar satellites.

The previous 18 Globalstar-2 satellites were successfully launched by Arianespace and Starsem on October 19, 2010, July 13, 2011 and December 28, 2011.

The satellites will be placed into a circular phasing orbit at an altitude of 920 km and at an orbital inclination of 52 degrees.

Soyuz launch with Globalstar-2 satellite payload mission profile.

After lift-off from the flight of the three lower stages of the Soyuz launch vehicle will last for 8 minutes and 49 seconds. Then the Soyuz third stage will separate from the nose module, consisting of the Fregat upper stage, the satellite dispenser and six Globalstar-2 satellites.

The Fregat upper stage will then fire its own engine, taking the nose module into a transfer orbit above the Earth. After this first burn, the Fregat will perform a barbecue maneuver to maintain proper thermal conditions for the Globalstar-2 spacecraft during the following coast phase, which lasts for about 50 minutes.

At the correct point on this orbit, Fregat will fire again, to reach the circular separation orbit. Following stabilization and under visibility of the Russian ground tracking stations, the six satellites will be released from the dispenser. The separation of the two satellites of the upper dispenser mast will occur first. 1 minute 40 seconds later, the four satellites of the lower dispenser mast will be separated simultaneously. After spacecraft separation, the Fregat upper stage main engine is re-ignited to reenter the stage in the South Pacific ocean.

The nominal mission duration, from lift-off to the last spacecraft separation, is 1 hour, 40 minutes, 20 seconds.

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