Space Systems/Loral, has signed a contract with Starsem, for three firm launches of each of four Globalstar mobile-communications satellites, plus eight optional launches, starting in 1998 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome (Flight International, 23-29 October). The Soyuz - seen here with an escape tower in its manned Soyuz TM launch configuration - will be equipped with the new Icare upper stage. Starsem is a consortium of the Russian Space Agency, the national Progress company, France's Aerospatiale and the European launcher organisation, Arianespace.

Starsem will invest $10 million in improving the launch infrastructure at Baikonur to ensure that it can provide up to 12 commercial launches a year to similar customers. The Globalstar constellation will consist of 48 operational satellites and eight in-orbit spares.

The McDonnell Douglas Delta 2 will launch eight Globalstars in two launches. Ukraine's Zenit 2 has been booked for three launches of 12 satellites each.

Source: Flight International