June 19 at 12:27 am E.T. from SLC-40 at CCSFS
The first Globalstar satellite launch since 2013 lifted off this early morning onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. This is a spare satellite for the Globalstar data relay and messaging constellation and adds capacity for the company’s commercial network providing data connectivity for satellite phones, asset tracking, and internet of things applications. The company said last month they were planning to launch one of their spare satellites in the near future, but did not specify which launch provider they planned on using. We now know of course that SpaceX got the contract and this is the first launch from SLC-40 since the Nilesat 301 launch last Wednesday.
Throughout 1998 to 2007 the Globalstar company launched sixty first-generation satellites built by Space Systems/Loral on Delta II and Soyuz rockets as they operate several dozen still in low Earth orbit. From 2010 to 2013 they added twenty-four second-generation satellites which were manufactured by Thales Alenia Space over four Soyuz rocket launches.
A recent regulatory filing the FCC which didn’t match any other launch on SpaceX’s schedule was apparently for this Globalstar-2 FM15 launch. There seems to be much secrecy surrounding this mission as neither SpaceX or Globalstar would confirm the upcoming launch, though the filing showed the Falcon 9 rocket would head the northeast from Cape Canaveral, which we saw it do just that during the course of the mission.
The Thales built satellite weighs about 700 kilograms or 1543 pounds. The constellation of the Globalstar fleet orbits about 878 miles above Earth and an inclination of 52 degrees to the equator, definitely an orbit obtainable with a northeast launch from Cape Canaveral.
As a competitor in the satellite phone and data relay industry Globalstar is up against companies like Iridium, Inmarsat, and Orbcomm. They announced in February that they were purchasing seventeen new satellites, all to be launched by the end of 2025 and costing a total of 327 million dollars.
Launching the mission tonight on its Northeast trajectory was Falcon 9 B1061, now having successfully launched and landed nine times for the company. B1061 first flew back in November of 2020 for the Crew-1 mission which was the first operational crewed spaceflight back on American soil. It didn’t fly again until the Crew-2 mission in April of 2021, from there SXM-8, CRS-23, IXPE in December of 2021. Then it flew its first and only Starlink mission to date on the 4-7 mission before the Transporter-4, and Transporter-5 mission.