Four communications satellites were launched early Tuesday, completing a set of 36 to be used for wireless telephone service starting this fall.
The 12:38 a.m. EDT liftoff of a Delta rocket marked the fourth time in just over two months that Boeing has launched a quartet of satellites. The first four went up June 10.
They were launched by San Jose, Calif.-based Globalstar, a consortium of 12 companies founded by Loral Space and Qualcomm Inc. While the 36 satellites will offer cellular phone users almost seamless coverage, a Globalstar spokesman said a few gaps, mainly over the equator, will be closed by the next several launches.
"We plan to launch four more each month through the rest of the year, which will provide backups and give us a constellation of 48 plus four spares," said Mac Jeffery.
Tuesday's launch had been set for Sunday, but scratches on a solid rocket booster casing caused Boeing to replace it as a precaution. Each Delta and its four satellites cost $115 million.