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Amended Glonass program to be approved this year

RIA Novosti

30/05/2008 21:06 MOSCOW, May 30 (RIA Novosti) - The amended federal Glonass program will be approved this year, the general designer of the global navigation system said on Friday.

"The program has been adjusted in terms of its content, in terms of funding, and is now being considered by the Economic Development Ministry... We hope this year the amended federal targeted program will be generally approved and start operating," Yury Urlichich said in an interview.

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

Urlichich, who is also general director and general designer of the Russian Space Instrument-Making Research Institute, said the renovated program will make it possible to bring Glonass characteristics to a competitive level.

"Modernization will concern all the system's components: the space complex, including the orbital group, the ground-based control system and the rocket and space complex," Urlichich said.

He said the modernization would include, in particular, increasing the number of satellites in orbit to 30, employing functional additions and mass production of navigational equipment. He said stage-by-stage implementation should ensure the Russian system is close to its American analogue, GPS, by 2011.

Asked why it was necessary to deploy 30 and not 24 satellites, as was anticipated earlier, Urlichich said it was required to improve competitiveness.

In January, the head of Russia's space agency Roscosmos, Anatoly Perminov, said the Glonass group should consist of 30, rather than 24, satellites, with 24 operating and 6 reserves.

A satellite production corporation official said in March that a fully operational Glonass cluster would consist of 30 Glonass-M and Glonass-K satellites by 2010.

Urlichich cited GPS, which has 31 operational satellites out of its orbital group of 32, and the Galileo system, which plans to encompass 27 operating satellites and three reserve ones. "We cannot lag behind and are moving in the same direction," he said.

The Glonass system currently consists of 18 satellites and is supposed to provide navigation and positioning data covering the entire 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.

A total of 9.9 billion rubles ($418.25 million) was allocated for Glonass from the federal budget in 2007, and 4.7 billion rubles ($200 million) in 2006.

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