Russia’s Glonass-M satellite put into orbit

Russia sent another Glonass-M navigation satellite into orbit on Monday, said Alexei Zolotukhin, spokesman of Russian Space Forces.

The Soyuz carrier rocket with the satellite on board was launched from the Plesetsk space center earlier in the day.

Mission control specialists have been holding a steady connection with the satellite, Zolotukhin said. The satellite’s onboard systems are operating normally.

The Glonass-M will augment a group of 30 Glonass satellites already in orbit. This was the last launch of a Glonass satellite this year.

Glonass is Russia’s answer to the U.S. Global Positioning System, or GPS, and is designed for both military and civilian uses. Both systems allow users to determine their positions to within a few meters.

Russia’s Glonass system currently has 23 operational satellites, while a total of 24 is needed to provide global coverage.

On November 4, three reserve Glonass-M satellites were launched from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan after three Glonass-Ms were destroyed in a failed launch last year.

Glonass-M satellite prepared for Monday’s launch

Staff of the Plesetsk space center in Russia’s northwest have prepared a Soyuz carrier rocket with a Glonass-M navigation satellite for Monday’s launch.

“On Friday the Soyuz 2.1B carrier rocket with the Glonass-M spacecraft was taken to the launch pad. The blastoff will take place as scheduled, on November 28,” space forces spokesman Col. Alexei Zolotukhin said.

Monday’s launch will be second this month and the final for the Glonass project this year.

On November 4, Russia launched a Proton-M rocket carrying three Glonass navigation satellites from the Baikonur space center after the failed launch last year which destroyed three Glonass-Ms.

Glonass is Russia’s answer to the U.S. Global Positioning System, or GPS, and is designed for both military and civilian uses. Both systems allow users to determine their positions to within a few meters.

Russia currently has a total of 27 Glonass satellites in orbit, although only 23 of them are operational.

The complete Glonass grouping needs 24 functioning and 2-3 reserve satellites to operate with global coverage.

Russian president warns space officials over failures

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has threatened to punish officials responsible for recent failures in the space industry.

“The latest failures [in space industry] seriously harm Russia’s competitiveness,” Medvedev told regional reporters on Saturday. “This means that we need to conduct a serious analysis and punish those responsible.”

He suggested that the punishment could be doled out either in the form of heavy fines or, if the guilt is obvious, in the form of disciplinary or even criminal penalties.

The Russian aerospace industry has faced a series of misfortunes over the last 11 months. In December, 2010, a Proton-M booster rocket failed to put three Glonass-M satellites into orbit.

The launch of a Rokot booster rocket carrying a military geodesic satellite Geo-IK-2 ended in failure in February.

After the first two mishaps, a number of senior space industry officials were fired and Roscosmos’s chief, Anatoly Perminov, was forced to resign.

However, the problems persisted as the aerospace industry failed to manufacture the planned number of spacecraft and incidents with the launches continued.

On August 18, a Russian Proton-M rocket lost a prized Express-AM4 satellite that was designed to provide digital television and secure government communications for Siberia and the Far East.

One week after the Express-AM4 went off course, a Soyuz-U booster malfunctioned, preventing the Progress M-12M cargo spacecraft from reaching orbit. Its debris fell in south Siberia’s Altai Republic.

The most recent accident involves the Phobos-Grunt interplanetary probe, which has been stuck in a low-Earth orbit after a successful launch on November 9 and would probably never be recovered.

The loss of Glonass satellites alone cost the state 4.3 billion rubles ($152.2 million).

Russia launches Proton-M with GLONASS satellites

Russia has successfully launched a Proton-M launch vehicle with three GLONASS-M navigation satellites from the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan.

­The launch was to have taken place a day earlier, but was delayed as a switch malfunction in the ground-control system was discovered during a pre-launch test. The device was then replaced.

The first stage of the rocket will fall over the Karaganda region of Kazakhstan, the second stage in the republics of Altay, Tuva and Khakassia in Russia, and the third stage in the Pacific, the Federal Space Agency told Interfax on Friday.

The Friday launch of the Proton-M was the first since the December 5, 2010, crash of an identical launch vehicle coupled with a DM-03 upper stage carrying three GLONASS-M navigation satellites, which dropped into the Pacific Ocean about 1,500 kilometers from Honolulu.

The Proton-M three-stage liquid-fuel launch vehicle is a product of the Khrunichev State Aerospace Center. The rocket has a take-off weight of 703 tonnes and can carry payloads of up to 22 tonnes to low orbits of 200 kilometers.

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

According to the Central Scientific Research Machine-Building Institute, 27 satellites are in the orbital group as of November 3. Twenty-three of them are used for their designated purpose, while one is in the phase of joining to the system, two are out of operation for technical maintenance, and one is in orbital reserve.

At least 18 working satellites are needed for the GLONASS system navigation signal to be received continuously all over Russian territory, while for global purposes there needs to be 24.

Russia launches Glonass satellites

Russia on Friday launched a Proton-M rocket carrying three Glonass navigation satellites from the Baikonur space center after a 24-hour delay due to technical reasons, a spokesman for the Federal Space Agency Roscosmos said.

This was first launch of a Proton-M rocket with Glonass satellites from Baikonur since the failed launch last year which destroyed three Glonass-Ms.

The launch was conducted at 16:51 Moscow time [12:51 GMT] on Friday. “The separation of the satellites is expected at 22:41 Moscow time [18:41 GMT],” the official said.

The launch was postponed for a day on Thursday after a malfunction of the switching network was detected during a check of the ground-based equipment at the launch pad.

Glonass is Russia’s answer to the U.S. Global Positioning System, or GPS, and is designed for both military and civilian uses. Both systems allow users to determine their positions to within a few meters.

Russia currently has a total of 27 Glonass satellites in orbit, although only 23 of them are operational.

According to Roscosmos, two Glonass satellites are under maintenance, one is on a standby, and one recently launched satellite is being integrated into the grouping.

The complete Glonass grouping needs 24 functioning and 2-3 reserve satellites to operate with global coverage.

Russia set to launch Proton-M carrier rocket with 3 Glonass-M satellites

Russia’s Proton-M carrier rocket with three Glonass-M navigation satellites will be launched on Thursday from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, a spokesman for the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) said.

“The launch is scheduled for 16:55 Moscow time [12:55 GMT]. The separation of the satellites is slated for 22:45 Moscow time [18:45 GMT],” the spokesman said.

By the end of the month Russia plans to put another Glonass-M satellite into orbit. It will be delivered by a Soyuz 2.1b launch vehicle from Russia’s Plesetsk space center.

Glonass is Russia’s answer to the U.S. Global Positioning System, or GPS, and is designed for both military and civilian uses. Both systems allow users to determine their positions to within a few meters.

Russia currently has a total of 28 Glonass satellites in orbit, although only 20 of them are operational.

According to the Russian Federal Space Agency, five Glonass satellites are under maintenance, one is on a standby, and two recently launched satellites are being integrated into the grouping.

The complete Glonass grouping needs 24 functioning and 2-3 reserve satellites to operate with global coverage.

 

Space un-surance: no safety net for crashing satellites?

Following a set of failed rocket launches, Russia’s space agency is planning to insure at least part of its activities in 2012. However, officials still seem likely to ignore the most vulnerable items.

The draft budget for such insurance has just been submitted to the State Duma, Anatoly Davydov, deputy head of the agency, told Izvestia.

However, the money allocated ill not cover all the launches. In order to get Duma approval, the space officials had to cut the expenses down to $70 million.

Ironically, among the spaceships whose launches will not be insured are exactly the same ones which did not manage to reach orbit in 2010-11.

Among them is Progress M-12M, whose “brother” crashed on August 24 in the first ever accident with the Progress series in 33 years. Instead, the Russian space agency will make sure the spaceships have reserve equivalents.

Neither will the launches of GLONASS satellites be insured, three of which were lost in December 2010, costing the space agency millions in damages. In trying to restore its reputation, at the time the agency pointed out that such launches should be insured.

Instead, the space agency is planning to insure a set of hydro-meteorological satellites, a remote sensing system, and the Sterkh rescue system satellite. All the satellites are very expensive. The insurance, meanwhile, will amount to only 11 per cent of the satellite’s cost.

To date, the agency is planning to insure exclusively the launch of the satellites. The risks on the orbit will not be covered, despite the world’s standards of insuring launch and the satellite’s first year in space.

Russia sets priorities for federal space program

The Russian space agency Roscosmos has prioritized commercial use of its satellites as part of the federal space program until 2015.

“By 2015, we are planning to increase the number of Earth observation satellites [in orbit] from five to 20, operational Glonass navigation satellites from 24 to 30, communications and Cospas-Sarsat satellites from 26 to 48,” Roscosmos head Vladimir Popovkin told Russian lawmakers on Friday.

Popovkin said Russia occupied only 3 percent of the commercial services segment of the global space market while conducting 40 percent of global space launches annually.

“Therefore, we have reviewed priorities of the federal space program. One of our new priorities is Earth monitoring, weather and communication satellites. Another priority is space science,” he said.

Russia currently has a total of 28 Glonass satellites in orbit, although only 23 of them are operational.

Popovkin said the Glonass satellite grouping will start providing global coverage in a month, when a recently launched Glonass-M satellite becomes fully operational.

 

Russia’s Glonass Satellite Navigation System Hits Major Milestone

A Soyuz booster rocket has successfully lifted a satellite for Moscow’s prestige Global Navigation Satellite System (Glonass) into orbit, marking an important success for a project the Kremlin hopes will rival the United States’ GPS and Europe’s Galileo systems.

The launch put the 24th satellite into the Glonass constellation, which will complete the network needed to insure full global coverage after it comes on line.

That landmark is a much-needed success for a system that has seen many ups and downs over the decades. Most recently, three Glonass satellites ended up in the Pacific Ocean following a Proton rocket failure in December 2010. That mishap was blamed on a sensor failure that resulted in too much fuel being loaded into the rocket.

However, the completion of the 24-satellite configuration is important for the system, which was originally developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s and languished during the collapse of Russia’s economy in the 1990s. Glonass went from having a full constellation of 24 satellites in 1995 to having just 13 functioning satellites in 2001.

The struggling system was adopted as a high-profile technology project by then-President Vladimir Putin in the early 2000s and given lavish state funding, and the goal of reaching full operability by 2009.

The government has spent $5 billion on Glonass since 2002. It is by far the largest project of the Russian Space Agency, which this summer asked for an additional $14.35 billion to fund the program through 2020. However, that request came just weeks after an Audit Chamber report described the project as “overpriced and ineffective.” The report said the program had scored well on only 18 of 28 effectiveness indicators.

Ultimately, the agency plans to have 30 satellites, including six back-ups, in the network.

A Competitive System

Fundamentally, the system is part of Russia’s ambitious program to modernize its military. The Kremlin learned the importance of having its own satellite-navigation system during the 2008 war with Georgia, when GPS service in the region was shut off.

But the government has also pushed hard to make Glonass a commercial competitor. Initially, the Defense Ministry wanted to limit civilian use to a less-accurate channel, but Putin personally vetoed that decision. Now Glonass’s civilian devices are accurate to within 6 meters, compared to 7 meters for GPS.

Using state orders as a driver to develop the system’s commercial potential, the government has tied Glonass into state emergency-management systems and has ordered all commercial passenger vehicles to be equipped with Glonass devices by the beginning of 2012.

It has also threatened to introduce stiff tariffs on the import of satellite-navigation devices — including mobile phones — that are not Glonass-compatible.

And slowly but steadily, Glonass is making inroads. Last month, Nokia — the world’s leading phone maker — announced it will release a phone that is both Glonass and GPS compatible next year. Several other global chipmakers are also producing dual-compatible chips. Chipmaker Qualcomm announced its dual-compatible chip in May, saying that using both systems could give consumers “a more accurate fix, or a faster fix,” especially in “deep urban environments.”

Russian carmakers have already begun producing Glonass-equipped automobiles.

But Glonass is entering a potentially crowded field. Not only must it contend with the well-established GPS system, but with Europe’s new Galileo system, a $20 billion project that will begin testing in 2014.

In addition, China is building its own global Compass navigation system, which is scheduled to be operational in 2020. And India is building a regional system.

Glonass-M satellite launch postponed until Sunday

The launch of the Soyuz-2.1B carrier rocket with the Glonass-M navigation satellite was postponed until Sunday because of the approaching cyclone, Russia’s Space Forces spokesman Colonel Alexei Zolotukhin said on Saturday.

The launch from the Plesetsk Space Center in northern Russia was scheduled for Saturday, but it has been postponed since the wind force exceeds the characteristics, allowed at the altitude of 7-10 kilometers, Zolotukhin said.

The Space Forces commander, Gen. Oleg Ostapenko dismissed any technical mishaps of the Soyuz carrier rocket.

“All the technical checks were held without flaws,” Ostapenko added.

Glonass is Russia’s answer to the U.S. Global Positioning System, or GPS, and is designed for both military and civilian uses. Both systems allow users to determine their positions to within a few meters.

The Russian aerospace industry has faced a series of misfortunes over the last nine months, including the loss of three Glonass satellites, a prized Express-AM4 satellite and the fall of the Progress M-12M cargo in south Siberia’s Altai Republic.

The loss of Glonass satellites alone cost the state 4.3 billion rubles ($152.2 million).

Russia set to launch Glonass-M satellite on Oct. 1

A Russian Soyuz-2.1B carrier rocket has been scheduled to lift off on October 1 to put another Glonass-M navigation satellite into orbit, a Space Forces spokesman said.

The launch has been postponed following two failed space launches in August which led to the loss of a Progress space freighter and the Express-AM4 communications satellite.

“A state commission has set the launch of a Glonass-M spacecraft on board a Soyuz-2.1B carrier rocket from the Plesetsk space center for October 1, 2011,” Col. Alexei Zolotukhin said on Thursday.

Russia lost three Glonass satellites last year when a Proton-M carrier rocket veered off course and crashed in the Pacific Ocean in December.

Glonass is Russia’s answer to the U.S. Global Positioning System, or GPS, and is designed for both military and civilian uses. Both systems allow users to determine their positions to within a few meters.

Russia currently has a total of 27 Glonass satellites in orbit, although only 23 of them are operational.

The complete Glonass grouping must have 24 operational and 2-3 reserve satellites for the Glonass network to operate with global coverage.