In early 1997, with the booming market for global communications driving up the need for launch services, about half of the orders were going to the Ariane 4.44 In an effort to keep pace with satellites for low and medium as well as geostationary orbit, Arianespace and Aerospatiale formed Starsem as a joint venture with Samara, the

A Starsem Soyuz-Fregat is prepared for launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

Russian maker of the Soyuz launcher, to market this vehicle with a range of upper stages in a manner that would complement the Ariane series.

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