Nokia to be first to use Russia’s Glonass navigation system in its phones

Finland’s Nokia, the world’s largest mobile phone producer, is to be the first international manufacturer to use Russia’s satellite navigation system, Glonass, in its phones and software platforms, national navigation services provider NIS Glonass said on Friday.

Glonass is Russia’s answer to the U.S. Global Positioning System, or GPS, and is designed for both military and civilian use. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov has said that the government might impose import customs duties for foreign products with GPS navigation systems without Glonass support from 2012.

Under a memorandum of mutual understanding signed by the two companies, Nokia plans to adapt the Russian system to the company’s products not only for the Russian market but also for international markets.

“Signing the memorandum with Nokia provides conditions for the mass introduction of Glonass technologies in Russian and foreign consumer markets. We will develop and maintain Glonass services for car and mobile phone owners together with Nokia,” NIS Glonass General Director Alexander Gurko was quoted in the company’s statement as saying.

U.S. Apple and South Korea’s Samsung, key mobile market giants, have said that their newest touch-screen smartphones, Apple iPhone 4S and Samsung Galaxy Note, would have Glonass support.


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.

Chukotka whalers get new boats, satellite navigation from government

Whalers from Russia’s Far East have received new boats and Glonass satellite navigation equipment under a state support program for native peoples, a regional administration spokesman said.

The move is an expansion of the broader state initiative to introduce in Russia Glonass, a satellite navigation system rivaling the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS). In a move to edge out the U.S. rival, Russian authorities want Glonass sets be installed in all public transportation and have recently increased import tariffs on GPS devices including iPads.

“The Levadia steamboat brought a large batch of equipment for marine hunters of two Chukotka districts, the traditional centers of marine mammal hunting,” a spokesman for the agricultural department of the Chukotka Autonomous District’s administration said.

Hunters received eight large motor boats, rescue equipment, Glonass satellite navigation vessel-tracking systems and fuel. Another delivery is expected in late November.

Hunting grey whales has been banned in Russia since 1947. Russia’s northeasternmost Chukotka Peninsula is the only region in Russia where whaling is permitted to encourage traditional activities and preserve the ethnic identity and cultural heritage of the region’s indigenous peoples.

So far eight communities, employing about 320 people, are hunting whales and other marine mammals in the region. This year hunters killed 117 whales and 2,906 walruses and seals.

Their activities are supported by the four-year state program with a total budget of 378.2 million rubles ($12.3 million) allocated from the federal and district budgets. The deliveries under the program began in 2010.

Apart from receiving subsidies from the state, native whalers are provided with fuel and various types of equipment, including boats and off-road vehicles. The state also gives them equipment for communications, rescue and navigation.

Soyuz launch from Kourou delayed one day

The first ever launch of a Russian Soyuz-ST space rocket from the European Space Agency’s Kourou launch site in French Guiana has been delayed until Friday.

The rocket, which had been due to launch at 2:34 p.m. Moscow time, is due to deliver a satellite for the European Galileo satellite navigation system.