Globalstar silence before the launch with SpaceX – Spaceflight Now

SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 vertical rocket at Site 40 on Saturday in preparation for launch with the Globalstar FM15 satellite. Credit: SpaceX

Globalstar is set to add a backup spacecraft to its commercial data network early Sunday by launching a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, but the satellite operator has remained silent about the mission on the eve of takeoff.

SpaceX has announced a mission – first reported by Spaceflight Now – and plans to host an online live broadcast of the launch, which is scheduled for 12:27 a.m. EDT (4:27 GMT) on Sunday from Cape Space Station 40 Canaveral.

But Globalstar, the mission’s only recognized customer, has not made public announcements about the launch of its backup satellite, except for a statement in last month’s quarterly financial statement that it plans to release the spacecraft’s backup in the “near future.” At that time, the company did not identify the launcher for the backup satellite.

But SpaceX has confirmed that it plans to launch a spacecraft known as the Globalstar FM15 from Cape Canaveral after midnight on Sunday. Airspace warnings indicate that the Falcon 9 will head northeast from Florida’s space coast, with the SpaceX “Just Read the Instructions” drone about 400 miles (650 kilometers) down from Cape Canaveral.

The reusable accelerator, flying during the Globalstar mission, has queue number B1061, making its ninth voyage to space. Launching early Sunday will limit a few busy days for SpaceX, as the company goes on its third Falcon 9 mission in about 36 hours.

Two Falcon 9s were launched from the Kennedy Space Center on Friday and then Saturday from the Vandenberg Space Force base in California, launching 53 Starlink Internet satellites and a German radar reconnaissance spacecraft. Sunday’s mission will be the 26th launch of SpaceX of the year, corresponding to the total number of Falcon 9 missions launched in 2020.

SpaceX completed 31 missions last year, the company’s current record for one calendar year. Officials are aiming for more than 50 Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy flights this year.

There is a 70% chance of a favorable time for Sunday’s launch from Cape Canaveral, according to the 45th Meteorological Squadron of the US Space Force. The only worries about the weather are the electric fields and clouds left over Central Florida after afternoon and evening thunderstorms.

Launch on Sunday will be Globalstar’s first companion since 2013 and adds capacity to the company’s retail network, which provides voice and data connectivity for satellite phones, asset tracking and the Internet of Things.

File image of a second generation Globalstar satellite. Credit: Thales Alenia Space

Globalstar operates a fleet of dozens of low-Earth orbit communications satellites. The company did not respond to numerous requests for details about the upcoming launch.

The company launched 60 first-generation satellites built by Space Systems / Loral on Delta 2 and Soyuz rockets from 1998 to 2007. Globalstar added 24 second-generation satellites made by Thales Alenia Space to four Union rocket missions from 2010 to 2013. г.

“Our constellation of low Earth orbit satellites (LEOs) includes second-generation satellites and some first-generation satellites,” Globalstar said in a quarterly report to the Securities and Exchange Commission last month. “We also have a second-generation backup satellite, which we plan to launch in the near future.

The Thales-created Globalstar satellite weighs about 700 kilograms, or 1,543 pounds. Globalstar’s fleet orbits about 878 miles (1413 kilometers) above the Earth at a slope of 52 degrees to the equator, an orchard accessible by launching northeast of Cape Canaveral.

The mission profile for the Globalstar mission shows that the upper stage of the Falcon 9 will burn its engine three times to inject the Globalstar FM15 spacecraft into target deployment orbit. The satellite is expected to split around 2:20 a.m. EDT (6:20 a.m. GMT), nearly two hours after takeoff.

SpaceX did not mention any payloads that could move into orbit with the Globalstar FM15 satellite. The relatively light weight of the Globalstar satellite usually leaves enough fuel reserve on the Falcon 9’s accelerator to return to landing, but Sunday’s mission will include landing on the offshore recovery platform SpaceX.

Globalstar satellites provide a data connection for customers between 70 degrees north and south latitude, and the company’s second-generation spacecraft are designed for a lifespan of 15 years. Created by Thales, the Globalstar satellites are trapezoidal in shape and feature 16 C-band and S-band transponders and 16 L-band and C-band receivers.

An online flight tracking website showed that an Ilyushin IL-76 cargo plane arrived on the launch site at the Kennedy Space Center last month, delivering a shipment from Rome, Italy, where Thales built the second generation of Globalstar satellites.

Globalstar competes in the market for satellite phones and data relays with companies such as Iridium, Inmarsat and Orbcomm. Globalstar announced in February that it was buying 17 new satellites from an industry team led by MDA and Rocket Lab to extend the life of its constellation.

The company expects all 17 new satellites to be launched by the end of 2025. A service provider for launching the new satellites has not been announced.

The $ 327 million contract for the 17 new satellites, along with the launch of the second-generation Globalstar backup spacecraft this month, is funded mainly by an unnamed “potential customer” for Globalstar services.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @ StephenClark1.

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