Globalstar satellite communications and satellite manufacturer Thales Alenia Space have announced an agreement that could put one of Globalstar’s new second generation satellites back in full service. Two sets of six satellites have been launched so far and a third set is planned to be launched in December.
Thales Alenia Space will develop and upload a software fix to one of the Globalstar satellites that is currently suffering from a mechanical problem which is affecting a pair of momentum wheels that keeps the satellite in a stable orbit. The software fix most likely will not fix the momentum wheels; it is planned to adapt the satellite’s current in flight configuration allowing it to return to service.
“Thales Alenia Space has allocated major skilled resources to this development, which would allow Globalstar to operate the satellite even with this wheel anomaly,” said Michel Fiat, the Cannes, Thales Alenia Space’s chief technical officer. “This software, after full validation on Thales Alenia Space software and avionics test benches, will be then uploaded in flight, thanks to onboard computer capability.”
The defective momentum wheels were built by the Goodrich Corp. This mechanical problem has affected tow of the six satellites Globalstar has launched in October 2010. If the software fix works it could be uploaded to other satellites that might suffer the same momentum wheel defects in the future.
Tony Navarra, president of global operations for Globalstar said, “Following weeks of simulations, design analysis and discussions with Thales Alenia Space, we welcome Thales’s agreement to develop a solution that should enable the affected satellite to return to full service and accomplish its primary mission of providing 15 years of high quality mobile satellite voice and data services.”
Globalstar is dealing with a different issue affecting momentum wheels on the second set of second generation satellites they launched in July. The momentum wheel issues may delay the launch of the third set of satellites currently planned for December.