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Plesetsk resumes preparations for Glonass-M launch

September 23, 2011, 19:23 UTC+3

Glonass general designer Yuri Urlichich said that five to six navigation satellites would be launched in Russia before the end of this year

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MOSCOW, September 23 (Itar-Tass) —— The Plesetsk spaceport in the Arkhangelsk region has resumed preparations for launching a Glonass-M navigation satellite with a Soyuz-2-1b rocket on October 1, Space Forces spokesman Col. Alexei Zolotukhin told Itar-Tass on Friday.

He said the spaceport personnel had attached the Fregat booster and the satellite to the rocket. The assembly will be complete on September 27.

“With the approval of the state commission, the launch vehicle will be installed on the launch site on September 29,” he said.

There are 27 Glonass satellites in orbit at present; 23 of them are operating, one is being put into service, and three are out for maintenance.

Glonass general designer Yuri Urlichich said that five to six navigation satellites would be launched in Russia before the end of this year.

No less than 18 operating satellites are necessary for Glonass coverage of Russia, and 24 satellites make the system global.

Glonass-M satellites are products of the Zheleznogorsk Reshetnev Information Satellite Systems based on earlier types of Glonass satellites and a unified pressurized platform. Glonass-M differed from its predecessors with a modified antenna feeder, a longer service life (seven years instead of 3-4.5 years) and two frequencies for civilian users. Glonass-M has been in use since December 2003. The satellite weighs 1,415 kilograms.

Glonass is a radio-based satellite navigation system, developed by the former Soviet Union and now operated by the Russian Space Forces. It is an alternative and complementary to the United States' Global Positioning System (GPS) and the planned Galileo positioning system of the European Union (EU).

Development on Glonass began in 1976, with a goal of global coverage by 1991. Beginning on 12 October 1982, numerous rocket launches added satellites to the system until the constellation was completed in 1995. Economic problems suspended the project, and Russia committed to restore the system in 2001.

On May 18, 2007, then Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a decree officially providing open access to the civilian navigation signals of the Glonass system, to Russian and foreign consumers, free of charge and without limitations. The Russian president also directed the Federal Space Agency to coordinating work to maintain, develop and enable the system for civilian and commercial needs.

Glonass was developed to provide real-time position and velocity determination, initially for use by the Soviet military for navigation and ballistic missile targeting. It was the Soviet Union's second-generation satellite navigation system, improving on the Tsikada system, which required one to two hours of signal processing to calculate a location with high accuracy. By contrast, once a Glonass receiver is tracking the satellite signals, a position fix is available instantly.

Russia is resuming launches of Soyuz rockets, which were suspended after the Progress M-12M failure of August 24.

The Federal Space Agency explained the accident with the clogging of the fuel pipe of the gas generator of the engine of the third stage of the Soyuz-U launch vehicle. Fragments of the rocket’s third stage and the freighter fell over the Altai Republic.

The accident alerted partners in the International Space Station (ISS) project, who later agreed to a tentative launch schedule with crew flights to the ISS resuming on November 14.

“The Space Station Control Board, with representation from all partner agencies, set the schedule after hearing the Russian Federal Space Agency’s findings on the Aug. 24 loss of the Progress 44 cargo craft. The dates may be adjusted to reflect minor changes in vehicle processing timelines,” NASA said.

Russian Federal Space Agency head Vladimir Popovkin disclosed the new launch schedule at last Friday’s press conference, which followed the successful landing of the Soyuz TMA-21 spaceship.

“Our top priority is the safety of our crew members. The plan approved today, coupled with the conditions on orbit, allow the partnership to support this priority while ensuring astronauts will continue to live and work on the station uninterrupted,” said International Space Station Program Manager Michael Suffredini. “Our Russian colleagues have completed an amazing amount of work in a very short time to determine root cause and develop a recovery plan that allows for a safe return to flight. We'll have a longer period of three-person operations and a shorter than usual handover between the next two crews, but we are confident that the crews will be able to continue valuable research and execute a smooth crew transition.”

“According to the current plan, the Soyuz 28 spacecraft, carrying NASA's Dan Burbank and Russia's Anatoly Ivanishin and Anton Shkaplerov, will launch November 14 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and arrive at the station on November 16,” NASA said.

“On November 22, Fossum, Furukawa and Volkov will undock their Soyuz 27 spacecraft and land in the northern Kazakhstan landing zone. Expedition 30 Commander Burbank, Ivanishin and Shkaplerov will work as a three-person crew for 36 days. The remainder of the Expedition 30 crew -- NASA's Don Pettit, Russia's Oleg Kononenko and Europe's Andre Kuipers -- will launch to the station aboard the Soyuz 29 spacecraft on or about December 26 and dock to the station two days later. The exact launch date is under review

“The control board also received a report on the status of supplies and spare parts aboard the station. The report shows there is sufficient logistical supplies to support crews through the summer of 2012 without deliveries from the scheduled cargo flights,” NASA said.

In addition, Baikonur made a successful launch of a Proton-M rocket carrying a defense satellite on September 11. The launches of Proton rockets were suspended after the loss of the Express AM4 satellite.


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