Globalstar's cluster of second-generation satellites to be orbited by Soyuz from Baikonur Cosmodrome has been installed atop the Fregat upper stage, marking another milestone in a wrap-up flight for Arianespace's Starsem affiliate.
The six spacecraft and their conical-shaped dispenser were positioned vertically on the Fregat stage this week in the Upper Composite Integration Facility (UCIF), which is operated by Starsem at the Kazakhstan launch site.
With the mating now achieved, the spacecraft/Fregat combination is ready for rotation to a horizontal orientation, allowing its encapsulation in the payload fairing. The completed unit will then be transferred to Baikonur Cosmodrome's MK 112 launch vehicle assembly and integration facility for mating with the basic three-stage Soyuz.
Fregat is produced by Russia's Lavochkin Research and Production Association, and is an autonomous and highly flexible orbital vehicle that can be restarted up to 20 times in flight, enabling complex mission profiles to be performed. It is composed of six welded spherical tanks: four spheres serving as the propellant tanks, while the other two operate as sealed instrumentation bays containing the flight control system, along with radio and telemetry systems.
The upcoming mission is now set for liftoff on February 5 at 10:20 p.m. local time in Kazakhstan, and will complete a series of four launches contracted via Arianespace for Globalstar's second-generation constellation - all conducted under the coordination of Starsem. It will be the 26th flight carried out by Starsem since the affiliate's history-making inaugural Soyuz commercial flight in 1999 that lofted four of Globalstar's first-generation constellation satellites.
Soyuz launchers are produced in Russia by the Samara Space Center "TsSKB-Progress." The medium-lift vehicle is used in both Starsem missions from Baikonur Cosmodrome and Arianespace's operations with this workhorse launcher from the Spaceport in French Guiana.