Launcher build-up for the concluding Soyuz mission currently contracted with Arianespace's Starsem affiliate from Baikonur Cosmodrome is entering its final phase following the integration of its upper composite element - consisting of six Globalstar satellites, their dispenser system, the payload fairing and Fregat upper stage.
In the Cosmodrome's Upper Composite Integration Facility (UCIF) operated by Starsem, the protective Soyuz ST payload fairing was moved into place this weekend around the mission's cluster of second-generation Globalstar spacecraft, which are installed on a conical-shaped dispenser and mounted atop the Fregat stage.
The encapsulated upper composite is now ready for transfer to the launch site's MIK 40 launch vehicle assembly and integration facility for mating with the basic three-stage Soyuz.
The ST26 mission - designating Starsem's 26th Soyuz flight operated under the affiliate's responsibility since 1999 - is scheduled for February 5. After liftoff from Baikonur Cosmodrome on the desert steppe of Kazakhstan, the Soyuz will deploy its Globalstar satellites during a 1-hr. 40-min. flight profile.
Weighing approximately 700 kg. each, the three-axis stabilized Thales Alenia Space-built spacecraft have a trapezoidal main body with two solar arrays. To be operated from low-Earth orbit, they are fitted with 16 transponders from C-band to S-band, and 16 receivers from L-band to C-band. Their 15-year design life is twice that of Globalstar's predecessor first-generation spacecraft.
Starsem and Arianespace have played a key role in the deployment of Globalstar's constellation for mobile satellite voice and data services. A total of 18 second-generation satellites have been lofted to date on Baikonur Cosmodrome Soyuz missions performed in October 2010, July 2011 and December 2011. They were preceded by eight Starsem missions from 1999 to 2007 that orbited 32 first-generation Globalstar satellites, which weighed 450 kg. each.