The rocket carrier Soyuz 2.1a with Fregat booster and six American Globalstar-2 satellites has been launched from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, Federal Space Agency of the Russian Federation (Roscosmos) said.
“The 5th and 6th spacecraft are scheduled to separate from the Fregat booster at 9:38 p.m. GMT Wednesday and the other satellites are scheduled to separate at 9:40 p.m. GMT,” Roscosmos said.
Initially the launch was scheduled for December 5, but it was postponed at the request of the client.
Last week on December 23 a Meridian satellite that was launched from the Plesetsk space center on board a Soyuz-2 carrier rocket crashed near the Siberian city of Tobolsk minutes after liftoff. It was expected that the state commission would reschedule the launch of foreign satellites pending the results of an investigation into the failure of the Meridian launch because the same Soyuz 2.1 rocket and booster are being used for the Globalstar launch.
The second stage of deployment of the Globalstar satellites started on October 19, 2010, when a Soyuz-2 carrier rocket orbited six of the second-generation satellites.
The previous six Globalstar satellites were successfully launched on July 13, 2011, following a two-day delay for various technical reasons.
Globalstar is a low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite-based telecommunications system founded by U.S.-based Loral Corporation and Qualcomm Inc. It provides high-quality satellite voice and data services across North America, and to over 120 countries worldwide.