Russian Defense Ministry Lifts GLONASS Restrictions

Moscow, January 1 (Itar-Tass) – The Russian Ministry of Defense lifted all the restrictions on Monday on obtaining and using the geospatial information provided by the global satellite navigation system GLONASS.

Earlier, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said a “civil and a commercial component has been added to the general segment."

The “system will not be effective without commercial profit, without the implementation; it is needed for military purposes, but this is not all,” he said.

Restrictions have been abolished on a precision of geographical coordinates of objects (previously 30 meters) and on linear resolution of the remote probing of the Earth, the minister said.

“This allows making open topographic and navigation maps of a large scale, allows using equipment of the space navigation system on a legal basis and allows the citizens and the economy to receive and use materials from aerospace means regardless of a resolution,” Ivanov stressed.

He said that open information is especially important “for the land cadastre and for motorists”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in December that GLONASS should be accessible to citizens. “It should be accessible to citizens, and not only to major entities of the economic activity, then the system will be economically profitable and recompensing,” he told Cabinet officials.

Russia’s GLONASS scored success in late 2006. Three new satellites with longer service life – up to 7 years — were put into orbit and taken under control by the Space Forces’ main testing and monitoring center.

The satellite will be propelled by on-board engines to the preset orbit coordinates in the first days of January. At present, the ground control center is testing their avionics. GLONASS now has 17 units. The cluster of satellites has to be brought to 18 to cover the entire territory of Russia, and to 24 to be used worldwide.

The satellites of the GLONASS /Uragan/ family were designed in the Zheleznogorsk-based research and production applied mechanics association.

Russia now has two versions of GLONASS. The state-of-the-art GLONASS-K satellite will function in orbit for ten or 12 years. It has better performance characteristics and weighs considerably less compared with the GLONASS or GLONASS-M units.

Russia is expected to launch trials of GLONASS-K this year. Design objectives are being formulated for a GLONASS-KM satellite. GLONASS is intended for determining the location and velocity of seaborne, airborne and ground objects and the precise time. Initially, it was planned to complete it by 2012, but President Vladimir Putin ordered the Defense Ministry to expedite the deployment of the system.

"It should become available nationwide by the end of 2007, and worldwide- by the end of 2009," the Russian defense minister said.