These satellites, together with an additional four satellites already launched in May of this year, will augment the current operating Globalstar constellation and provide satellite voice and data service through the launch of the second-generation satellite constellation, which is scheduled to begin in 2009.
The eight satellites launched this year will then be integrated into the Globalstar second-generation satellite constellation.
The new satellites were launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Sunday, 21 October at 2:12 am local time (8:12 pm UTC and 1:12 pm October 20 in California), using the Soyuz-Fregat version of the Soyuz launch vehicle. This is the 1726th successful launch of the Soyuz family of rockets.
Launch services provider Starsem confirmed that the upper stage accurately injected the four-satellite dispenser into the targeted low earth orbit of approximately 920 km. Globalstar says that all four satellites have been successfully acquired following separation of the Fregat Upper Stage and release from the satellite dispenser.
While Globalstar is continuing to perform initial satellite in-orbit tests, the performance of all four spacecraft is said to be nominal at this time.
Tony Navarra, president of global operations for Globalstar, said "Globalstar has invested approximately $120 million to launch these four satellites plus the four satellites launched earlier this year."
?We consider these eight satellites to represent the beginning of our next-generation constellation, because they will not only help bridge the gap today, but last long into and seamlessly operate with, our second-generation constellation. We are also pleased that we will continue to use the reliable Soyuz launch vehicle when we resume our Globalstar launches with our second-generation spacecraft in 2009."
In December 2006, Globalstar signed an $885 million contract with Thales Alenia Space for the design, manufacture and delivery of 48 new satellites for the second-generation Globalstar satellite constellation. The satellites are being designed to provide service until at least 2025.
In September, Globalstar signed a contract with European launch services company Arianespace for the launch of Globalstar's second-generation LEO (low earth orbit) satellites using the Soyuz launch vehicle.
The agreement provides Globalstar with the ability to conduct back-to-back launch campaigns and commence launching its second-generation satellites as early as the summer of 2009 from Arianespace's Guiana Space Centre launch complex located in French Guiana.