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MOSCOW, November 13 (Itar-Tass) — The second GLONASS-K satellite will be launched in late 2012 or early 2013, deputy director general of Russian Space Systems /RKS/ Grigory Stupak told reporters at the opening of the 11th international conference Aviation and Cosmonautics 2012 on Tuesday.
The company representative explained the tentative date by problems of the order of priority in launching the unit from the cosmodrome. After the launch of the second spacecraft, it will have to undergo trials, due to be completed in 2014-2015.
The first GLONASS-K satellite was launched last February. The shortcomings identified in its operation were eliminated in the second upgraded unit. There are no plans yet for the launch of the third unit of this generation of satellites.
"Next year, we'll have scheduled launches of GLONASS-M to maintain the orbital cluster. The number of launches will be determined by operational necessity," Stupak said.
The number of functioning units of the GLONASS satellite navigation system may increase to 30 in the next two or three years. "The immediate plans are to bring the cluster to 30 units deployed in additional planes," Stupak said, "research, feasibility and modeling will be completed this year. To implement this plan, only a political decision will be needed."
To ensure the effective operation of all 30 units, Russia will have to develop a new interface to receive the signal from all the 30 satellites. The equipment currently in use can only work with 24 GLONASS satellites.
The increase in the number of functioning GLONASS satellite will enhance the performance characteristics of this navigation system by an order of magnitude.
"It will improve its precision and effectiveness in urban conditions. Also, GLONASS is somewhat outperformed in water areas by foreign navigation systems, but bringing the cluster to 30 units will rectify it," the RKS official said.
"Our key task is to make sure that the change does not disrupt the existing users' work," he underlined.
The Russian global satellite navigation system /GLONASS/ functions in the interests of the national economy, defense and state security. It is an important strategic element of the government infrastructure. The satellite system determines the location of airborne, seaborne, ground and space objects and persons. It is a dual purpose asset and is used not only by the military, but also by the police, the Emergency Situations Ministry and federal emergency services.
To ensure uninterrupted navigation signal in the whole territory of Russia, it needs 18 functioning satellites, while global coverage requires 24.
Russia currently operates GLONASS, GLONASS-M and GLONASS-K satellites. The operating life of GLONASS-M units is seven years, while the new generation GLONASS-K might function up to 15 years.