Moscow: The Russian Glonass global navigation system will very likely be inaugurated later this year, Russia's first deputy prime minister, Sergei Ivanov, said Wednesday. Slated to be a dual-use, commercial and military, system it is meant to rival the long established US GPS and the newer European Gallileo systems. It is also a significant announcement for India, as the country is a major partner in the Glonass system.
"I have no doubt that by the end of the year, Roskosmos [the Federal Space Agency] will honor its commitments, for which state subsidies were issued promptly, and orbit 18 Glonass satellites," Sergei Ivanov said.
In all Glonass visualizes the positioning of 24 satellites as part of the overall system. With 18 satellites in place, the system would be tow-thirds operational, which will allow it to function as a viable system.
The Glonass and the US GPS systems allow users to identify their positions in real time. This is the system that allows automobiles to find their way on autobahns and highways, as well as on city roads. It is also the system that allows missiles, particularly cruise missiles, to home in on their targets with unerring accuracy.
A dictat from Russian president Vladimir Putin, in December 2005, had asked the Roskosmos agency to get the system up and functioning by 2008.
The head of Russia's Roskosmos, Anatoly Perminov, said earlier that his country was also in talks with the United States and the European Space Agency to prepare agreements on a joint use of Glonass along with the GPS and the Galileo satellite navigation systems.
The agency plans to have 18 satellites in orbit by late 2007 or early 2008, and a full orbital group of 24 satellites by the end of 2009, Perminov said.
The Glonass system was formally launched on September 24, 1993. The satellites currently in use have a service life of five years. However, Ivanov said that Roskosmos planned to launch Glonass satellites with a service life of 10 years by 2010.