A Soyuz 2-1a Fregat launch vehicle successfully launched seven Globalstar second generation spacecraft on 6 February from the Baikonur launch site, near Tyuratam in Kazakhstan. The launch into low Earth orbit took place at 1604 GMT and about 100 minutes after lift off the last four of the six spacecraft aboard were successfully deployed. The completion of the 24 satellite second gereration constellation on four Soyuz launches will mean that complete and uninterupted voice communications can again be offered by the Globalstar mobile communications service. The orignal service was disrupted after S-band antenna faults on the first generation series of satellites.
Soyuz 2-1a Fregat successfully lifts off with its six Globalstar second generation spacecraft payload Courtesy: Arianespace
The spacecraft were built by Thales Alenia Space and are expected to have a service life of at least 15 years. A further six Globalstar second generation satellites are expected to be launched to provide in orbit back ups to the system though a Soyuz launch contract is yet to be signed.