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Russia postpones navigation satellite launch from Plesetsk

RIA Novosti

07:11 24/02/2011

MOSCOW, February 24 (RIA Novosti) - The launch of the Glonass-K navigation satellite, scheduled to take place Thursday from the Plesetsk space center in northern Russia was postponed for 24 hours, a defense ministry spokesman said.

"For technical reasons, the launch of the Glonass-K satellite is postponed for 24 hours, to a reserve date," spokesman Alexei Zolotukhin said.

The Glonass satellite network is Russia's answer to the U.S. Global Positioning System, or GPS, and is designed for both military and civilian uses. Both systems allow users to determine their positions to within a few meters.

The Glonass-K, which has a service life of 10 years, will beam five navigation signals - four in the special L1 and L2 bands and one for civilian applications in the L3 band.

The previous launch under the Glonass project, supposed to conclude the forming of the satellite grouping, was unsuccessful as the rocket veered off course and sunk in the Pacific Ocean. The loss cost Russia 2.5 billion rubles ($820 million) in direct damages.

The complete grouping must have 24 operational and 2-3 reserve satellites to ensure global coverage. Russia currently has a total of 22 Glonass satellites in orbit and will launch another three Glonass-M satellites on board a Proton heavy carrier rocket later this year.

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