First Deputy PM Ivanov Slams Agency Over GLONASS Failings

Moscow, January 23 (RIA Novosti) – Russian space agency Roscosmos must take responsibility for the operational shortcomings of the Glonass satellite navigation system, a first deputy prime minister said on Wednesday.

Glonass (Global Navigation Satellite System), Russia’s equivalent of the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS), is designed for both military and civilian use and allows users to identify their positions in real time.

Sergei Ivanov, who oversees the country’s military-industrial complex, called for the agency’s leaders to take "personal responsibility for the development of particular components of Glonass and the system as a whole."

He said the satellite cluster does not provide 100% accessibility to Glonass services throughout Russia’s territory, and that precision levels do not meet modern requirements.

According to various media sources the precision of location searches by GPS stands at one meter, while Glonass’ precision varies between tens of meters.

Ivanov said production output at plants manufacturing the satellites is still inadequate.

"Devices on the satellites have not yet reached the necessary reliability level. Unfortunately, competitive domestic navigation equipment is still not available on the Russian market," he said.

The fully operational Glonass cluster will consist of 24 Glonass-M and Glonass-K satellites by 2010, with 21 used for transmitting signals and three for on-orbit spares, deployed in three orbital planes.

The system currently consists of 18 satellites and is supposed to provide navigation and positioning data covering the whole territory of the Russian Federation.

Another six satellites will be added to the Glonass system in 2008, and the first two improved Glonass-K satellites are set to be launched in 2009.

The future modification, Glonass-K, is an entirely new model based on a non-pressurized platform, standardized to the specifications of the previous models’ platform, Express-1000.

A total of 9.88 billion rubles ($380 million) was allocated for Glonass from the federal budget in 2007, and 4.7 billion ($181 million) in 2006.