PARIS — Mobile satellite services provider Globalstar will delay the early December launch of a third batch of second-generation satellites by three weeks as manufacturer Thales Alenia Space swaps one of the six spacecraft with a spare untainted by a momentum-wheel defect affecting other satellites already in orbit.

“In order to reduce the risk of any possible momentum wheel issues, and based on a recommendation from Thales Alenia Space, one satellite originally scheduled for the third launch is being replaced by another spacecraft already at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site,” Globalstar said in a statement.

Globalstar launched six satellites in October 2010 and another six in July. The defective momentum wheels, built by Charlotte, N.C.-based Goodrich Corp., have affected two of the first six satellites. Globalstar spokesman Dean Hirasawa points out, however, that only one satellite of the 12 launched is in safehold mode and unable to provide service due to the momentum wheel anomaly.

Globalstar and Thales Alenia Space announced an agreement in November that could lead to the return of the crippled second-generation telecom satellite to service, using a software fix that would adapt its current inflight configuration. Thales will implement the solution in stages in the coming months.

“We are very pleased to announce that we are proceeding with our launch plans for a December 25th launch date,” says Jay Monroe, Globalstar chairman and chief executive.

– Amy Svitak (svitak@aviationweek.com)