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Globalstar Lloyd's satellite constellations
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active Globalstar constellation
Full active Globalstar constellation as modelled in SaVi

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Here is the official Globalstar website. (Globalstar also appear to have a restricted-access website). Other Globalstar sites include:

The failure to launch twelve satellites on a Zenit-2 in September 1998 was reduced from streaming video to a single line in their now-vanished launch schedule, although a press release concerning the launch failure was later put up. After that disaster they made a public satellite phone call to demonstrate that what was already up is functional. Later launches did not use Zenits.

Globalstar coverage is limited to regions that lie within the same satellite footprint as a gateway station, and Globalstar associates have built far fewer gateway stations than originally planned. Although the rosette constellation geometry allows coverage between latitudes of +/- 68 degrees or so, you still need to be in the footprint with a gateway station to complete a call. Coverage areas are limited, although they're now covering most of Alaska. Further information on coverage and roaming is available from Globalstar Canada.

Globalstar - it's not global, and it's not based on a Walker star geometry.

Financial stuff

Thermo Capital Partners LLC has taken control of Globalstar. (Associated Press, 16 April 2004)
Here are the related Thermo-Globalstar FCC applications.

ICO Global made a bid for Globalstar. Here's a copy of the bid terms (16 April 2003) and the press release detailing the deal (28 April 2003). They withdrew their bid in October 2003.

Globalstar was in talks to be sold to Bennett LeBow's New Valley Corporation, but the deal collapsed thanks to a disagreement in terms.

Globalstar finally files for Chapter 11 US bankruptcy protection on 15 February 2002. This has been anticipated for some time.

Globalstar lays off half its staff (August 2001)

Please don't ask me about finance-related matters. Please don't ask me about pending class-action lawsuits. A number of class-action lawsuits have been announced.

If you have a holding in Globalstar, take a look at recent stock data. Here's idle financial discussion of Globalstar and Motley Fool discussion.


Globalstar officially launched their service at Geneva Telecom '99 on 13 October 1999. Their current country coverage has been increasing; the CIA World Factbook doesn't think that Bermuda, Gibraltar or Yugoslavia are countries...


The Globalstar Launch Information Line is +1-408-933-4000
The Boeing Delta Launch Information Line is +1-714-896-4770

Globalstar recently signed for several launches with Boeing and for an Ariane launch. Interesting - Ariane hasn't been utilised by US constellation companies.

Soyuz launches were delayed as the Russians and Americans played political tit-for-tat over inspecting launches, but a tight launch schedule was announced as soon as an agreement was signed in January 1999. There are quotas. (from Wired News, who couldn't make up their minds about the details of the remaining launches.)

Orbital and constellation status

Globalstar status is described by the Satellite News Digest. If you want to track the satellites using the two-line element set format, here's a recent NORAD two-line element set for Globalstar. They set up an intermediate constellation of 8 planes of 5 satellites each before moving to the final 8x6 configuration. Later, after satellite failures, Globalstar returned to a 40-satellite configuration. More details on that are provided in Globalstar's SEC filing of 31 March 2003.

There's a regularly-updated downloadable TLE set from NORAD via NASA's OIG - log into their archive to get historical information. Orbitessera (mirror) may also be useful.

Launch dates below should be local to the time at the launch site.

First launch of second- generation satellites

Globalstar announces successful second launch of six new satellites, Globalstar press release, 14 July 2011.

Six satellites from Baikonur.

First launch of second-generation satellites

Globalstar Announces Successful Launch of Six New Second-Generation Satellites, Globalstar press release, 20 Ocotober 2010.

Six satellites from Baikonur.

Fifteenth and sixteenth launches

Eight satellites in 2007.

Globalstar announces successful launch of four satellites, Oct 22 2007 press release. From Baikonur on Soyuz.
four satellites on Soyuz from Baikonur, May 2007.

Fourteenth launch

The four remaining Globalstar satellites (64 were built) were launched on 8 February 2000 as in-orbit spares on a Delta II. Launch coverage is provided by Florida Today Space Online, and here's the Boeing media kit. Coverage from Spaceflight Now includes Quicktime videos. Here are videos of satellite deployment.

Thirteenth launch

A Soyuz carrying four satellites launched on 22 November 1999.

Twelfth launch

A Soyuz carrying four satellites launched on 18 October 1999.

Eleventh launch

A Soyuz carrying four satellites launched on 22 September 1999.

Tenth launch

A Boeing Delta carrying four satellites launched on Tuesday 17 August 1999. Here's the Boeing media kit.

Ninth launch

A Boeing Delta carrying four satellites launched on Sunday 25 July 1999. Here's the Boeing media kit.

Eighth launch

A Boeing Delta carrying four satellites launched on Saturday 10 July 1999 after delays due to high winds. Here's the Boeing media kit.

Seventh launch

Third Boeing Delta II carrying four satellites from Cape Canaveral, launched on Thursday 10 June 1999 after delays due to bad weather. Here's the Boeing media kit.

Sixth launch

Four satellites on a Soyuz-Ikar from Baikonur launched on Wednesday April 14 1999. I didn't notice this launch at the time - thanks to Perry Stout for pointing it out after the fact.

Fifth launch

Four satellites on a Soyuz-Ikar from Baikonur launched on 15 March 1999.

Fourth launch

Four satellites on a Soyuz-Ikar from Baikonur on Thursday 10 February 1999. That brought them to twelve satellites in orbit after losing twelve on the Zenit - a new definition of break-even. Here's Wired News reporting.

Third launch (attempt and failure)

Globalstar lost twelve satellites on a Russian Zenit 2 rocket launched on Wednesday, 9 September 1998, apparently due to flight control computer problems. The launch was initially described as going well - apparently the announcer was reading from a preplanned script and Globalstar employees didn't learn of the failure for at least two hours.

The official website streamed the launch, but then removed the RealPlayer files in an attempt at spin control.

Apparently Globalstar expects to begin service in some latitudes with only 32 satellites active - this is one of the benefits of the diversity approach using CDMA gives them. (Wired News, 10 September 1998)

Map showing trajectory of the failed launch from the BBC.

(That gave the people in the financial forums something to chew over... they've been saying some silly things.)

Second launch

The second set of Globalstar satellites launched in April 1998.

First launch

The first Globalstar satellites were ready to launch in December 1997. That first launch was rescheduled for 6 February 1998, but strong winds delayed launch until 14th February. Delays and glitches hamper the launch (Wired News, 6 February 1998)


Description of gateways from a networking perspective.


Technical summary from the Big LEO tables.
Description of Globalstar from the Small Satellites Home Page.
Globalstar operations centre.
Summary of Globalstar from Computer Review.
Introduction to Globalstar from Alcatel.
Globalstar uses CDMA communications technology from Qualcomm. Here's their introduction to Globalstar.

Is CDMA that good? Some people have their doubts, more doubts, and proven doubts. And they've been debating the benefits of CDMA ever since.
Satellite production includes Alenia Aerospazio.
Satellite phones from Ericsson.
Sun sensors from EDO Corporation.
Discussion of Globalstar subsystems from Paul Pomes.

Planned Globalstar coverage

Every circle in the cylindrical projection below is the coverage area, or footprint, of a Globalstar satellite flying overhead at the centre of the circle and looking down for signals. All but the highest latitudes are completely covered.

48 operational satellites provide this coverage - the full constellation as originally planned.

earth coverage by Globalstar
Globalstar's satellite footprints at a moment in time, generated by SaVi
The footprints move over the earth. There is no orbital seam.
Coverage requires a terrestrial gateway in or near a footprint.
cylindrical projection

Without sufficient gateways, coverage is sparse, as shown by Globalstar USA's coverage map.

The financial market is going to determine all of this. At some point, we may exhaust the opportunity associated with satellite communications.

- Doug Dwyre.

Lloyd Wood (L.Wood@society.surrey.ac.uk)
this page last updated 22 October 2010