Russia Delays Launch of Three GLONASS Satellites

Moscow, October 22 (RIA Novosti) – The October 29 launch of a carrier rocket bearing three GLONASS navigation satellites has been delayed until February 2010, Federal Space Agency Roscosmos said on Thursday.

Roscosmos said the delay was caused by the need to carry out work to increase the reliability of the satellites.

GLONASS – the Global Navigation Satellite System – is the Russian equivalent of the U.S. Global Positioning System, or GPS, and is designed for both military and civilian use. Both systems allow users to determine their positions to within a few meters.

The 18 satellites the system requires for continuous navigation services covering the entire territory of the Russian Federation are currently in orbit.

Another six satellites still have to be launched to bring numbers up to the 24 needed to provide services worldwide. The launch of another three GLONASS satellites has been scheduled for December 4, also from the Baikonur space center.

Roscosmos head Anatoly Perminov earlier pledged that all six satellites required to complete the GLONASS satellite grouping would be launched by the end of 2009.

A total of 9.9 billion rubles ($360 million at the current exchange rate) was allocated for GLONASS from the federal budget in 2007, and 4.7 billion rubles ($170 million) in 2006.