Pre-launch preparation of Russian Rokot carrier rocket near completion
MOSCOW, August 18 (RIA Novosti) - The Plesetsk space center in northern Russia is about to complete pre-launch preparations of the Rokot carrier rocket, scheduled to blast off in early September, a defense ministry spokesman said on Wednesday.
The rocket is expected to deliver into orbit the Gonets-M satellite to be used in Russia's Glonass satellite navigation project.
"Simultaneously, the launch complex's ground-based equipment is being prepared, and the spacecraft's performance check is being conducted," Lt. Col. Alexei Zolotukhin said.
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 enable users to determine their positions to within a few meters.
Russia currently has a total of 22 Glonass satellites in orbit, but only 16 of them are functional. The system requires 18 operational satellites for continuous navigation services covering the entire territory of Russia and at least 24 satellites to provide navigation services worldwide.
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