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GLONASS satellite put into final orbit

November 28, 2011, 22:21 UTC+3

The purpose of the launch was to increase the number of GLONASS satellites in orbit to the level that will effectively ensure steady and continuous signal worldwide

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MOSCOW, November 28 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia successfully orbited a GLONASS navigation system satellite on Monday, November 28.

“The carrier rocket Soyuz-2.1b that blasted off from Plesetsk at 12:26 today has successfully put a Glonass-M satellite into the final orbit,” Space Troops spokesman, Colonel Alexei Zolotukhin told Itar-Tass.

“The takeoff and the flight of the carrier rocket as well as the separation of the satellite proceeded normally. After separation at 16:03 Moscow time, control of the satellite was taken over by the ground-based automated complex,” he said.

“Stable telemetric contact has been established and maintained with the satellite. All of its onboard systems are operating normally,” Zolotukhin said.

The purpose of the launch was to increase the number of GLONASS satellites in orbit to the level that will effectively ensure steady and continuous signal worldwide.

According to the Central Research Institute of Machine-Building, there are 30 satellites in orbit up to date, including 23 that are used for the state purpose, three are being put into operation, two are temporarily out of service for maintenance, one is in reserve, and one is undergoing flight tests.

The system needs at least 18 operating satellites to cover Russia and 24 to go global.

Russia's satellite navigation system GLONASS will be restored in 2011, Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) chief Vladimir Popovkin said earlier.

“We will restore it this year. I have no doubt about that,| he said in an interview with Russia Today in July. “We plan to get GLONASS certified by all international organisations so that it could be used in full and thus get access to all international markets,” he added.

Popovkin believes that GLONASS “is an absolutely competitive product”.

“Even Great Britain is interested to use GLONASS, and representatives of the British space agency requested several meetings and events so that they could use it effectively,” he said.

GLONASS is more accurate than American GPS, Roscosmos Deputy Director Anatoly Shilov said.

“Today the accuracy of GLONASS is 6 metres, and that of GPS is 7 metres,” Shilov said.

He said the accuracy of the Russian navigation system would have to be improved to 2-3 metres in the years to come.

In his opinion, this can be done only if the system operates at full capacity with 24 satellites.

Russia plans to launch another GLONASS-M satellite in August and another three in September-October from Baikonur in Kazakhstan.

GLONASS system will become fully operational by the end of 2011.

The next launch from Baikonur is scheduled for this summer. “At any rate, the system will become fully operational by the end of 2011, with 24 satellites covering the whole planet,” First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said.

He noted that the ground-based equipment was lagging behind the space assets.

The Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) is based on a constellation of active satellites which continuously transmit coded signals in two frequency bands, which can be received by users anywhere on the Earth's surface to identify their position and velocity in real time based on ranging measurements. The system is a counterpart to the United States Global Positioning System (GPS) and both systems share the same principles in the data transmission and positioning methods.

The development of the GLONASS began in 1976, with a goal of global coverage by 1991. The system was completed 1995 but then rapidly fell into decay after the collapse of the Soviet economy. In 2001, Russia decided to restore the system and has diversified and accelerated the programme aiming at global coverage by 2009.

GLONASS was developed to provide real-time positioning and velocity estimation, initially for use by the Soviet military.

The fully operational GLONASS system consists of 24 satellites.

GLONASS is managed for the Russian Federation Government by the Russian Space Forces and the system is operated by the Coordination Scientific Information Centre (KNITs) of the Defence Ministry.

The first GLONASS satellites were launched into orbit in 1982. Two Etalon geodetic satellites were also flown in the 19,100 km GLONASS orbit to fully characterise the gravitational field at the planned altitude and inclination. The original plans called for a complete operational system by 1991, but the deployment of the full constellation of satellites was not completed until late 1995 and early 1996. GLONASS was officially declared operational on September 24, 1993 by a decree of the President of the Russian Federation.

Work is underway to modernise the system. The new GLONASS-M satellites have better signal characteristics as well as a longer design life (7-8 years instead of the current 3 years). In the future, the system should use low mass third generation GLONASS-K satellites with a guaranteed lifespan of 10 years.

GLONASS-K is third generation Russian satellite for the GLONASS system. Unlike the previous generation of GLONASS-M satellites, this satellite can operate up to ten years (instead of 5-7 years for GLONASS-M), weighs less (935 kilograms compared to 1,415 kilogram GLONASS-M satellites), and will provide more accurate coordinates. It will also carry signals for the international Cospas-Sarsat search and rescue system.

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