PARIS — Mobile satellite services provider Globalstar Inc. and European satellite manufacturer have announced an agreement that could return one of the Covington, La.-based company’s second-generation telecom satellites to service.
Over the coming months,Alenia Space will develop and upload software to the satellite, which currently suffers from a mechanical glitch affecting a pair of momentum wheels designed to keep the spacecraft in a stable position in orbit. Although the software fix is not expected to repair the wheels, it should adapt the satellite’s current in-flight configuration to allow it to return to service.
“Thales Alenia Space has allocated major skilled resources to this development, which would allow Globalstar to operate the satellite even with this wheel anomaly,” said Michel Fiat, the Cannes, France-based company’s chief technical officer, in a Nov. 21 statement from both companies. “This software, after full validation on Thales Alenia Space software and avionics test benches, will be then uploaded in flight, thanks to onboard computer capability.”
The defective momentum wheels, built by Charlotte, N.C.-based., have affected just two of the six satellites that Globalstar launched in October 2010. If the new software fix works, Fiat says it could be uploaded to other satellites suffering momentum wheel defects in the future, if necessary.
“Following weeks of simulations, design analysis and discussions with Thales Alenia Space, we welcome Thales’s agreement to develop a solution that should enable the affected satellite to return to full service and accomplish its primary mission of providing 15 years of high quality mobile satellite voice and data services,” Tony Navarra, president of global operations for Globalstar, said in the statement.
Globalstar is now looking at a different issue affecting momentum wheels on a second tranche of six second-generation satellites launched in July and may delay the launch of a third batch of satellites currently planned for December.