Alcatel Alenia Space and Globalstar Inc. announced their signing of an initial authorization-to-proceed agreement to start work on mobile satellite voice-and-data services provider Globalstar's second-generation satellite constellation.
The preliminary contract calls for negotiation of a definitive contract, due to be signed Nov. 15, for Alcatel Alenia Space to construct 48 low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites weighing about 500 kilograms apiece, at an overall price tag of 7.7 million euros ($9.7 million). Once signed, the definitive contract will stipulate that Alcatel Alenia Space, as prime contractor, will design, manufacture and deliver the Globalstar satellites as well as related work including launch-support services and operations-support services.
"This is a very important contract for us," said Blaise Jaeger, executive vice president of telecommunications activities for Alcatel Alenia Space. The project, involves "numerous production sites [in] France, Italy, Belgium and Spain, each country according to their core business," he said.
Globalstar Inc. announced Oct. 2 a planned initial public offering of 6.5 million shares priced at between $16 per share and $18 per share. The proceeds will be used to launch eight spare satellites to augment the current constellation as well as launch the second-generation constellation and upgrade gateways and ground facilities.
In a statement, Jay Monroe, chairman and CEO of Globalstar, described "this agreement [as] a crucial first step towards securing the Globalstar space segment and augmenting our present LEO constellation of satellites. Of extreme importance, the new constellation is intended also to provide our customers with long-term continuity of service by being fully backwards compatible with our current line of products."
Globalstar's current constellation was launched in the late 1990s, and the company plans to launch eight spares in 2007, which will allow Globalstar to provide its satellite telephony and data services into at least 2010.
Globalstar plans to begin launching second-generation satellites in 2009 and the constellation will be designed to operate until at least 2025 and to integrate with the current spacecraft while supporting significantly higher data speeds and other new services to handheld devices. Jaeger said the constellation will provide service to Globalstar's approximately 200,000 customers in 120 countries, most of which lack access to terrestrial communications.
Pascale Sourisse, president and CEO of Alcatel Alenia Space, said "we are very proud that Globalstar has extended its cooperation with us and continues to place its trust in our satellite solutions. This agreement demonstrates our capability to design and build large series of LEO satellites as well as our expertise in providing competitive satellite solutions."
As a contractor for Globalstar's first-generation satellites, Alcatel Alenia Space participated in their design and was responsible for payloads, structure, thermal subsystems and integration. The company was also responsible for manufacturing and installing the Globalstar ground segment gateway antenna terminals.
Officials from both companies declined to discuss specifics about the satellites' usage and clientele prior to ratification of the definitive contract next month.
Globalstar's established clients include maritime, government, utilities, emergency preparedness, oil and gas, forestry, military, transportation, heavy construction, and business continuity as well as individual recreational users.
-- J.J. McCoy