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Russia orbits three new Glonass navigation satellites

RIA Novosti

19:23 14/12/2009 MOSCOW, December 14 (RIA Novosti) - A Proton-M carrier vehicle on Monday orbited three new Glonass-M navigation satellites, a spokesman for Russia's space agency said.

He said the satellites, launched from the Baikonur space center on Monday at 13:38 Moscow time [10:38 GMT], detached from the rocket at 17:10 Moscow time [14:10 GMT].

This was this year's final launch, bringing the total number of Glonass satellites in orbit to 22.

The 18 satellites that the Glonass system requires for continuous navigation services covering the entire territory of Russia have been in place for several months.

Another two are due to be orbited to make 24, the minimum number needed to provide services worldwide.

A total of 9.9 billion rubles ($360 million) was allocated for the Glonass project from the federal budget in 2007, and 4.7 billion rubles ($170 million) in 2006.

In September, 2008, an additional $2.6 billion was allocated to develop the system.

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