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Arianespace Completes 2012 With Soyuz Launch Partner Mission For Globalstar
by Staff Writers
Baikonur, Kazakhstan (SPX) Dec 29, 2011

File image of a Soyuz Fregat night launch.

Arianespace wrapped up another busy - and historic - 12 months of commercial launch services today by orbiting six satellites for mobile voice and data services on the ninth flight of 2011 - during a year in which the company lofted a total of 29 payloads using the Ariane 5 and Soyuz members of its launcher family.

Today's mission, performed from Baikonur Cosmodrome by the Starsem affiliate of Arianespace, carried the latest cluster of second-generation satellites for Globalstar and utilized the medium-lift Soyuz.

The modernized Soyuz is used to loft Globalstar's satellites

Today's launch occurred at 11:09 p.m. local time on December 28 from Baikonur Cosmodrome's Launch Pad #6 and was the 1,784th flight of a Soyuz family vehicle.

During the mission, Soyuz' re-ignitable Fregat upper stage performed two propulsive burns separated by a coast phase of approximately 50 minutes, followed by the Globalstar satellites' separation in a two-step process.

The initial spacecraft pair was released from the upper portion of a purpose-built dispenser system, followed 1 minute, 40 seconds later by the remaining four satellites' separation from the dispenser's lower section.

Anthony J. Navarra, Globalstar's President of Global Operations, was at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site for today's mission and quickly confirmed the six satellites' deployment and their good health.

"I cannot express my gratitude enough for all of the hard work that has been done by Arianespace and Starsem, and for all of the teams' excellent work," Navarra said.

"These satellites were flawlessly placed exactly where we needed them so that our ground stations could find them on the very first pass. It's amazing that we can find six satellites within 30 minutes of them being placed into space. Only Arianespace has done that so well over all the years we have worked together."

Globalstar's second-generation platforms are trapezoidal in shape to facilitate their integration under the Soyuz payload fairing, and they weighed approximately 650 kg. each at launch.

This flight utilized the same basic modernized Soyuz version that Arianespace introduced at the Spaceport in French Guiana during 2011, and was equipped with the ST-type fairing with an external diameter of 4.1 meters and a length of 11.4 meters.

Today's launch was designated ST24 in Arianespace's numbering sequence, signifying the 24th flight performed by its Starsem affiliate since beginning operations in 1999 with an inaugural mission that carried four Globalstar first-generation satellites.

This was the third of four such launches contracted to Arianespace by Globalstar for its latest series of spacecraft, and the six payloads orbited during the 1 hour, 40 minute mission will join Globalstar's constellation that provides voice, Duplex and Simplex data products and services.

"This demonstrates once again that Soyuz, its Fregat upper stage and the dispenser system are the right choice to launch the Globalstar 2 constellation," stated Jean-Yves Le Gall, the Chairman and CEO of both Starsem and Arianespace.

"Tonight was the 11th launch that Starsem and Arianespace have performed for Globalstar, and I want to thank Globalstar for its confidence. We already are preparing the 12th launch, which will occur next year."

With the year-ending flight, Arianespace confirmed its market leadership by once again living up to the company's unofficial motto: "Launches speak louder than words."

In the past 12 months, Arianespace orbited eight telecommunications spacecraft for worldwide customers; deployed 12 second-generation satellites for the U.S.-based Globalstar; launched Europe's second Automated Transfer Vehicle to service the International Space Station; lofted two In-Orbit Validation platforms for the European Galileo satellite navigation service; orbited the Pleiades 1 and SSOT multi-role civilian/defense imaging spacecraft for France and Chile, respectively; and carried four French-developed ELISA demonstrators for defense-related electronic intelligence gathering.

The nine missions conducted in 2011 carried a total combined payload mass of more than 63,000 kg., and involved numerous launch services milestones.

This included Soyuz' historic introduction at the Spaceport in French Guiana, bringing the Russian-built medium-lift workhorse into Arianespace's launcher family with a pair of highly accurate missions performed just two months apart: the inaugural launch in October, and a follow-on flight earlier this month.

Soyuz is now operational for commercial flights from the Spaceport alongside the heavy-lift Ariane 5, with Arianespace's launcher family at French Guiana to be completed by the 2012 introduction of its lightweight Vega.

This trio of vehicles will enable Arianespace to accommodate a full range of payloads on a variety of flight and mission profiles.

Other Arianespace milestones during 2011 involved the heavy-lift Ariane 5.

Its February mission with the Automated Transfer Vehicle lofted a record payload of more than 20 metric tons into low Earth orbit; which was followed in April by another record-setting flight that delivered a lift performance of 10,064 kg, while carrying the Yahsat Y1A and Intelsat New Dawn telecommunications satellites into geostationary transfer orbit.

The five Ariane 5 flights performed by Arianespace in 2011 also brought the launcher's consecutive successful missions to 46, underscoring the vehicle's long-term reliability.

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