Russia to Orbit 7 New GLONASS Satellites in 2010

Russia will launch seven new GLONASS satellites into orbit by the end of 2010, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.

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.

"We are actively continuing to increase our space grouping. There are presently 23 satellites functioning in orbit, 21 of them operating perfectly, though the work the two remaining ones are under question," Putin said.

Putin said the additional seven satellites to be launched this year would bring the total to 27-28 fully functional satellites for the navigation system

He added that 2.5 billion rubles ($85.24 mln) was spent on the satellite system in 2009, and another 3.7 billion rubles was allocated for 2010-2011.