A Soyuz rocket successfully boosted six second-generation Globalstar mobile voice and data communications satellites from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Dec. 28, marking the third mission for the European version of the Russian launcher initially developed for Arianespace commercial launches from the spaceport in French Guiana.
The mission, carried out by the French launch provider’s Starsem affiliate, was the first for the Soyuz family since the Dec. 23 third-stage failure of a similar Soyuz-2.1b from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome with a Russian Meridian military communications satellite. A Russian state commission is investigating.
The Globalstar delivery began with a liftoff of the Soyuz-2.1a booster from the cloud-covered Kazakh launch site at 12:09 p.m. EST, or 11:09 p.m. local time. The mission unfolded over the next hour and 40 min. with deployment of the six 1,500-lb. communications satellites. The near 8.5-min. performance of the three stages during the 1,784th Soyuz mission was trouble-free, according to Arianespace.
Jean-Yves Le Gall, chair and CEO of Arianespace, and Anthony Navarra, Globalstar president of global operations, announced the successful operations shortly after 2 p.m. EST.
The launch was the third of four second-generation Globalstar missions contracted to Arianespace and Starsem. The first delivered a dozen satellites in the new series to orbit in October 2010 and July 2011. The final launch of the series will support the mobile voice and data needs of commercial and government customers in more than 120 countries.
The new spacecraft, built for the Covington, La., global communications provider by, feature a 15-year lifetime, twice that of the first-generation spacecraft.
Users include the oil and gas industry, transportation, commercial fishing, heavy construction, mining, forestry, utility and recreational interests as well as the military.
Two previous launches of the Soyuz-2.1a were conducted by Arianespace from French Guiana in October and December 2011.