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    SpaceX Launches Falcon 9 For The Third Time

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    In the wee morning of Sunday morning, SpaceX deployed its Falcon 9 rocket on a classified mission. The rocket launched from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 12:27 a.m. EDT (04:27 a.m. UTC), with the official mission of the rocket being the delivery of a single substitute satellite for telecommunications operator Globalstar.

    Thales Alenia Space built the Globalstar-2 FM15 spacecraft, which is part of Globalstar’s second-generation network of low-earth-orbit (LEO) communications satellites. Even though 24 of its sister satellites were deployed by SpaceX between 2010 to 2013, it has stayed on Earth as a ground spare till today. It is now launching to be ready to bolster the network with the help of SpaceX, once the old satellites begin to fail.

    SpaceX Successfully Delivers Substitute Satellite

    Globalstar employs its satellite fleet to deliver voice and data connections all over the world. The company’s first-generation constellation, which comprised 48 operational satellites plus on-orbit spares, was launched between 1998 and 2000. The second-generation concept was originally planned to include 32 satellites, however, it was scaled down to the present 24 satellites in orbit.

    FM15 is one of the second-generation satellites based on Thales’ Extended Lifetime Bus 1000 (ELiTeBus-1000) platform, which has a 15-year operational life expectancy. The twenty-four satellites that are now in orbit were delivered in six-packs atop the Baikonur Cosmodrome’s Soyuz-2-1a/Fregat rockets. Globalstar intends to replace these satellites with third-generation spacecraft beginning in 2025.

    MDA Corporation of Canada was given a contract to produce the first 17 replacement satellites earlier this year. FM15 was one of the first 25 spacecraft ordered by Globalstar for its second-generation system. The firm planned to buy more satellites as spares, however, Thales refused an order for six more spacecraft in 2011 due to a contractual conflict between the two companies. As a result, FM15 has been maintained in reserve until now as Globalstar’s only accessible backup satellite. FM15’s launch will aid in keeping the constellation functioning till the MDA-built satellites become operational.

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