Russia launches four US satellites into orbit

By RIA Novosti
Moscow, Russia has successfully launched four US Globalstar satellites into orbit on board a Soyuz-FG carrier rocket from a space center in Kazakhstan, the Russian space agency said Wednesday.

The rocket lifted off from the Baikonur space center at 00.31 a.m. Moscow time and put the satellites into transitional orbit.

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“The separation of satellites from the Fregat booster occurred at the designated time and control over the spacecraft was passed to the customer,” a spokesman for the Russian Federal Space Agency said.

Globalstar is a low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite-based telecommunications system founded by US-based Loral Corporation and Qualcomm Inc. It provides high-quality satellite voice and data services across North America and to over 120 countries worldwide.

Commercial launches of Soyuz carrier rockets are managed by Starsem, a European-Russian joint venture, which comprises EADS SPACE, Arianespace, the Russian Federal Space Agency, and the Samara-based Progress design and production center.

Created in 1996, Starsem offers Soyuz rockets for a broad range of mission needs, including satellite telecommunications systems, scientific spacecraft, and Earth observation meteorological platforms.

The current Globalstar orbital constellation comprises 48 LEO satellites, with an additional four satellites in orbit as spares.

Each Globalstar satellite consists of an antenna, a trapezoidal body, two solar arrays and a magnetometer, and operates at an altitude of 1,414km (876 miles). The service life of a Globalstar satellite is over seven years.