Designing & building a new fleet of Globalstar satellites
In February 2022, Rocket Lab was awarded a $143 million subcontract by MDA to lead the design and manufacture of 17 spacecraft buses for Globalstar’s new Low Earth Orbit satellites.
Rocket Lab will lead the development of the spacecraft buses, while MDA will act as prime contractor to manufacture Globalstar’s satellites, lead the development of the payload, and perform the final satellite assembly, integration, and test. The partnership between Rocket Lab and MDA brings together two of the space industry’s most innovative satellite companies.
All 17 of the spacecraft are being designed and manufactured at Rocket Lab’s Long Beach production complex and headquarters, where a new high-volume spacecraft manufacturing line has been developed to support growing customer demand for Rocket Lab satellites. Leveraging Rocket Lab’s vertically integrated space systems capabilities, the spacecraft feature components and subsystems produced by Rocket Lab’s recently acquired companies including solar panels and structures from SolAero Technologies in Albuquerque, New Mexico, software from ASI by Rocket Lab in Denver, Colorado, and reaction wheels from Sinclair Interplanetary in Toronto, Canada. The telemetry and control radio for all spacecraft will also be a C-band variant of Rocket Lab’s Frontier Satellite Radio (Frontier-C). Globalstar expects to launch the satellites by the end of 2025.
Rocket Lab is also developing the Satellite Operations Control Center (SOCC) for the constellation.
The SOCC system will be developed by Rocket Lab’s Denver, Colorado ground data systems team and based on the MAX Ground Data System (MAX GDS). MAX GDS is in use on several satellites and constellations, including the DARPA/SDA Mandrake-2 mission involving two formation flying spacecraft performing optical crosslink demonstrations. The Globalstar SOCC will provide 24/7 monitoring and management of Globalstar’s constellation including:
- Continuous satellite control and monitoring using Rocket Lab’s MAX GDS, a constellation-class ground software solution that provides complete spacecraft command and control.
- Satellite orbit determination, maneuver planning, collision avoidance, orbit maintenance, and propellant management.
- Satellite health analysis and reporting, anomaly resolution, performance trending, payload monitoring, management, and reconfiguration.