Tim Furniss/LONDON

NPO YUZHNOYE OF Ukraine has been awarded a contract from Space Systems/ Loral to launch 36 Globalstar telecommunications satellites into low-Earth orbit aboard three Zenit 2 boosters. The launches will be from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, in 1998. The contract is the first dedicated commercial-launch deal for Ukraine.

Each booster will carry 12 satellites in a configuration composed of three tiers of four satellites each, allowing each craft to be deployed sequentially - a method derived from multiple independent re-entry vehicle technology developed for intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The first four Globalstars will be launched aboard a McDonnell Douglas (MDC) Delta 2 in 1997, with a possible three further Delta 2 launches. A total of 56 satellites will be launched to establish a network of 48 operational and eight spare satellites.

Ukraine's launch contract depends on the successful completion of a bilateral agreement with the USA about the number of the launches and their prices.

The Globalstar deal may run into trouble if an objection is raised over the high proportion of the satellites launched by Ukraine.

China has won two more launch contracts. Long March 3-class boosters will be used to launch Asia Pacific Satellite's ApStar 1A and the US Echostar 3 communications satellites in 1996 and 1997, respectively. China now has nine firm launches outstanding for communications satellites to geostationary transfer orbit.


Source: Flight International