Preparations are underway for a medium-lift Soyuz launch to deploy the six final spacecraft in Globalstar's second-generation constellation, with the mission scheduled to lift off from Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome next February.
This is the last of four flights contracted to Arianespace for the orbiting of Globalstar's second-generation constellation, completing a series of launches that started in October 2010, and continuing in July and December 2011. All of these missions are performed at Baikonur Cosmodrome by Arianespace's Starsem affiliate.
Globalstar reports that with the 18 satellites orbited to date by Arianespace/Starsem launches, its current subscribers and new users are experiencing significantly improved performance and reliability with high voice quality, fast mobile satellite handset data speeds and affordable service.
Built by Thales Alenia Space, the Globalstar second-generation platforms are trapezoidal in shape to facilitate their integration on a purpose-built dispenser that fits under the Soyuz payload fairing.
The launch vehicles operated from Baikonur Cosmodrome use the same basic modernized Soyuz version that Arianespace introduced at the Spaceport in French Guiana during 2011, and are equipped with the ST-type fairing that has an external diameter of 4.1 meters and a length of 11.4 meters.
Next February's Soyuz launch is designated ST26 in Arianespace's numbering sequence to signify the 26th flight performed by its Starsem affiliate since beginning operations with a launch in 1999 that lofted four first-generation Globalstar satellites.