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The Global Navigation Satellite System, which began operation in 1993, is a Russian equivalent of the US Global Positioning System (GPS). The GLONASS network provides real-time positioning and speed data for surface, sea and airborne objects with an accuracy of one meter (three feet). A group of 28 GLONASS satellites was in orbit as of April 2014, with 24 in operation, three spares, and one in the test-flight phase, according to Roscosmos.

Whereas the Soviet low altitude navigation systems were patterned after the American Transit network, a Soviet counterpart to the US Global Positioning System first appeared in 1982, four years after the launch of the first Navstar GPS satellite. The now Russian Military Space Forces' Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) is designed to provide instantaneous, high precision location and speed information to users throughout most of the world. Deployed in nearly circular orbits at an altitude of 19,100 km by Proton boosters, each GLONASS satellite emits navigational signals in a 38 degree cone near 1250 MHz (L2). GLONASS positional accuracies (95% confidence) are claimed to be 100 m on the surface of the Earth, 150 m in altitude, and 15 cm/s in velocity.

Like Tsikada, GLONASS spacecraft were developed under the leadership of the Applied Mechanics NPO with the assistance of the Institute for Space Device Engineering. A third party, the Russian Institute of Radio navigation and Time, has been responsible for time synchronization and related equipment. Also following the Tsikada precedent, serial production for GLONASS satellites has been accomplished primarily by the Polet PO. Conceived and promoted in the early 1970's by the former Soviet Ministry of Defense, and in particular by the Soviet Navy, GLONASS is now the centerpiece of the CIS' Intergovernmental Radio navigation Program, which has close ties with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) (References 446-458).

The first launch under the GLONASS program took place October 12, 1982, but the system was only formally launched September 24, 1993. The GLONASS system comprises radio navigation satellites that track the whereabouts of consumers on land, at sea and in space. GLONASS satellites were designed and built by the research and production center based in Krasnoyarsk, Southern Siberia.

By Presidential decree on 24 September 1993, just before the 11th anniversary of the maiden GLONASS mission, the GLONASS program was officially placed under the auspices of the Russian VKS. This organization is responsible not only for the deployment and on-orbit maintenance of GLONASS spacecraft (the latter through the Golitsino-2 Satellite Control Center) but also, through its Scientific Information Center, for certification of GLONASS user equipment.

Since the program began deployments in 1982, four models of GLONASS spacecraft have been flown. Ten Block I satellites were launched during 1982-1985 with design lifetimes of only one year (average actual lifetime of 14 months). Six Block IIa satellites followed in 1985-1986 with new time and frequency standards and increased frequency stability. The Block IIa spacecraft also demonstrated a 20% increase in operational lifetime.

Block IIb spacecraft with 2-year design lifetimes appeared in 1987, and a total of 12 were launched, but half were lost in launch vehicle accidents. The remaining spacecraft worked well, operating for an average of nearly 22 months each. The current GLONASS model, Block IIv, has been in use since 1988 with 12 of the 34 satellites launched during 1993-1994. One Block liv spacecraft, which are expected to operate for at least three years, worked for 50 months before being placed in a standby status.

The 3-axis-stabilized GLONASS spacecraft now possess a mass of about 1,400 kg, a slight increase over the 1,250-kg original model. The diameter and height of the satellite bus are approximately 2.4 m and 3.7 m, respectively, with a solar array span of 7.2 m for an electrical power generation capability of 1.6kW at beginning of life. The aft payload structure houses 12 primary antennas for L-band transmissions. Laser corner-cube reflectors are also carried to aid in precise orbit determination and geodetic research. GLONASS spacecraft are equipped with a modest propulsion system to permit relocation within the constellation and to maintain interplane phasings.

The Phase I GLONASS system was completed in 1991 with seven active satellites in each of two orbital planes separated by 120 degrees.(The official Phase I goal was six satellites in each of two-planes.) Within each plane the spacecraft are spaced 45 degrees apart with a 15 degree phase shift between planes. The Phase II requirement for seven active and one spare satellite in each of three orbital planes separated by 120 degrees is scheduled to be met by 1995.

The two principal GLONASS receivers are the SNS-85 for airborne platforms and the Shkiper for naval vessels. The former unit has amass of only 13.5 kg and dimensions of 201 x 259 x 364 mm, while the latter is somewhat larger at 21.5 kg and 263 x 425 x 426 mm. However, the Shkiper provides a more accurate velocity determination: 15 cm/s compared to 50 cm/s for the SNS-85. The similarity of the GLONASS and GPS frequencies and techniques permits the creation of single, dual-use receivers when the slightly different geodetic (e.g., SGS-85 versus WGS-84, respectively) and time reference frames are taken into account. Such a dual-use receiver has been developed by the Institute of Space Device Engineering. Several concepts have been proposed for integrating the GLONASS and GPS networks, particularly for international civil aviation (References 459-469).

A total of 12 GLONASS spacecraft were added to the network during 1993-1994 with four launches of three vehicles each: Kosmos 2234-2236 in 1993 and Kosmos 2275-2277, 2287-2289, and 2294-2296 in 1994. The Kosmos 2287-2288 mission was particularly noteworthy with its inauguration of the GLONASS Plane 2. By the end of 1994, 15 GLONASS spacecraft remained operational, although Kosmos 2111 in Plane 1 was in a non-nominal position due to a propulsion system failure early in life. During October, 1993, Kosmos 2206 transferred from slot 20 to slot 21 which was then occupied by Kosmos 2205 which had been moved from slot 18.

While GLONASS was scheduled to reach full operational capability in 1995, the first flight of the improved GLONASS-M Block I spacecraft was anticipated in 1995-1996. Under development since 1990, the 1,480 kg satellite will feature better frequency and timing accuracies as well as an extended operational life of 5-7 years. Further in the future, perhaps after the turn of the century, a 2,000-kg-class GLONASS-M Block II may be available with inter satellite communications and monitoring and capable of autonomous operations for as long as 60 days (References 470-472).

Within a few years of the debut of GLONASS satellites, the world scientific community, in particular radio astronomers, discovered a harmful side-effect of the system. The heart of the GLONASS L1 band coincides with the weak natural emissions of extra-solar hydroxyl molecules. Consequently, some spacecraft transmissions were interfering with radio astronomy surveys. As the number of operational GLONASS spacecraft increased, the problem became severe and was further accentuated by the fact that the high altitude satellites remain above the horizon for extended periods. However, having been made aware of the problem, the GLONASS program is incorporating measures to minimize the interferences (References 473-476).

As of early 2001 only 13 of the 24 satellites of the Glonass navigation aid networks remained in working order.

On 26 December 2005 Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he wanted Russia's GLONASS global navigation satellite system ready before 2008. "The GLONASS system should be created before 2008, as it was originally planned," Putin told government members. "We have the possibility. Let us see what can be done in 2006-2007."

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said three new satellites had been successfully put into orbit on 25 December 2005 to expand the navigation system. He said 19 out of 24 GLONASS satellites were currently in orbit. "I am convinced that by 2008, all the 24 satellites will be in orbit as part of the GLONASS federal target program," Ivanov said. The president noted however that the satellites should be put into orbit earlier.

Vyacheslav Davidenko, a Russian airspace agency (Roskosmos) spokesman, said Monday that the three satellites launched were already operating normally, and control over them was exercised from GLONASS mission control based Krasnoznamensk, near Moscow. He also said the orbital group was to be expanded to 24 satellites in three orbital planes, with eight spacecraft in each plane. In march 2008 this number of satellites planned was increased to 30 in total. Only 18 of the satellites are presently operational with in the GLONASS network.

The satellites currently in use are of two modifications - GLONASS and its updated version GLONASS-M. The latter satellites have a longer service life of seven years and are equipped with updated antenna feeder systems and an additional navigation frequency for civilian users.

The future modification, GLONASS-K, is an entirely new model based on a non-pressurized platform, standardized to the specifications of the previous models' platform, Express-1000. GLONASS-Ks are small-sized spacecraft that are considerably lighter than their previous models, which makes them less costly to put into orbit. Their weight also allows the use of a wider range of carrier rockets such as the Soyuz-2 from Plesetsk instead of Proton from the Baikonur cosmodrome. GLONASS-Ks' estimated service life has been increased to 10-12 years and a third "civilian" L-range frequency was added. Tests on the future GLONASS-K satellites were scheduled for 2007. The first test launch of a GLONASS-K is not expected before December 2010 but will have a three year longer satellite life expectancy.

Russia GLONASS along with China’s Baidu (Big Dipper) and Europe’s Galileo navigation satellites are challenging the U. S. Monopoly on navigation based satellite systems. This is due to the rising multiplicity in the varieties of applications for the hand held satellite signal receiving systems applications. Russia expects by the end of the 2007 to launch into earth orbit six new longer life of seven years GLONASS-M satellites that will complete eighteen of the system orbital slots with more to follow. The full twenty four satellite network is expected to become fully operations on or before the end of 2009 per the request of President Vladimir V. Putin. What is driving this Russian effort to get part of the action is the as of 2006, $15 billion a year growing market for these navigation systems devices.

The first three GLONASS -M's was expected to be launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on or about September 25, 2009 with a second set of three GLONASS satellite launched December 14, 2009. Another launch with three more GLONASS-M's is expected in September 2010 to be followed in December 2010 with two additional GLONASS-M's and the test GLONASS-K series spacecraft. That would hopefully bring the system up to a full 24 active satellites constellation.

Through September 2008 there were 17 operational GLONASS satellites with 22 expected to be operational before the year is over with six more to be launched into the operational satellite system. It is planned to at all times to have 18 satellites covering the Russian Federation territory with a total of 24 satellite to cover the globe by 2012. The Russian Federal Space Agency hopes to have 30 satellites in place by some time in 2011. To date 4.7 billion Rubles or ($200 million) was allocated in 2006 with 9.9 billion rubles ($418.25 million) in 2007 allocated. Priminister Vladimir Putin on September 15, 2008 approved the addition of 67 billion rubles ($2.6 billion) in a work meeting with the government ministers. He also stated that he would approve an additional 45 billion rubles ($1.8 billion) for the Federal Space Program. On December 26, 2008 three more GLONASS-M satellites were orbited making it a 20 operational satellite system.

Through February 2010 Russia had 22 GLONASS spacecraft in orbit with only 16 operational. The Russian territory requires 18 operational at all time to service Russian customers with 24 required for world wide services. Three more were launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on March 1, 2010 making it 18 operational satellites in the system fully opening the system for Russia with two more not functioning properly while undergoing diagnostics. It was announced in early April 2010 that seven more satellites were to be launch by the end of 2010 creating an operational number of 27-28 satellites making it globally operational during the end of 2010. Russia will spend 1.7 billion Rubles (about 58 Million dollars) in 2011 while 2010 they are spending 2.0 billion Rubles and have in 2009 spent 2.5 billion Rubles on the program.

Priminister Putin noted in his remarks on the program in February 2010 that the GLONASS program must become a commercial program since is is highly competitive with its world competitors. In that respect it was announced in June 2010 that a joint venture between Information Satellite Systems Reshetnev, Co. of Russia and the US Trimble Navigation Group had agreed to form a joint joint satellite venture called Rusnavgeosat. Each company will own 50% of the stake in the Moscow based company to produce a new Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) geodetic satellite network activity to commercialize GLONASS. This is to support the required equipment for the GLONASS system and further develop the geodetic navigation satellite system.

By late in 2010 there were 26 dual purpose military, civil GLONASS spacecraft on orbit with three none functional but two of them are replacement reserve satellites. Three GLONASS-M spacecraft were launch on December 5, 2010 but were lost when the Khrunichev three stage Proton-M booster and its Energiya fourth stage failed to achieve orbit. This was due to the propellant over loading of 1.5-2 tons on the Blok-DM-3 Energiya fourth stage. It was not identified in a quality control review in what turned out to be a miscalculation on the required propellant load. The loss of those three spacecraft valued at 2.5 billion - 4.3 billion Rubles on that launch has had a great impact on the program completion holding it back from the national goal of going global with the GLONASS system at the end of 2010. This was in competition with the U. S. GPS system and the developing European Galileo system besides the Chinese Beidou, Compass system.

At least two firings and one reprimand from Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev impacting both the Russian, Federal Space Agency, and Energiya Corporation. The prosecutor general office of the Russian Federation has opened a criminal proceedings on the program and its funding and the personnel involved in the failure that is continuing as of this writing. The globalization of GLONASS is now expected to be delayed to the third quarter of 2011 but no later than one year to December 2011 leading to the launching of not merely the three replacement satellites but at least two more to be certain of the planned program completion with several reserve satellites.

Plesetsk has been the site of Russia's GLONASS satellite launches since February 26, 2011, when the first new generation GLONASS-K spacecraft was launched into orbit by a Soyuz-2.1 medium booster. Until that time, all launches of GLONASS-K satellites were carried out on Proton rockets from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

Eight more of the GLONASS satellites were planned for launch between 2011 and 2013 bringing the total operational satellites up to 27-28 satellites. Russia planned to spend 1.7 billion Rubles in 2011 after spending 2 billion Rubles in 2010 on the national program. Russia subsequently successfully launched one GLONASS-K satellite from the Plesetsk Space Center on February 26, 2011 on a Soyuz- 2-1b booster. GLONASS-K system was to go operational for Russia by the end of 2011.

Ground-based stations for Russia's Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) could be installed in several countries, including in Europe, but the current political situation is interfering with the process, a senior Russian space official said 11 April 2014. “It is currently difficult to say exactly when and where [stations could be installed]. We are ready to sign an agreement with one of the European countries,” said Sergey Saveliev, the deputy head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos. Saveliev stressed the issue has been complicated by the current political situation. “Another station is preparing for launch in Brazil, but its functional profile is slightly different. We are currently working on the relevant legal agreement,” Savelyev said.

Saveliev’s comments came a day after Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin wrote that Russia will open a GLONASS station in Crimea this year. “Development of GLONASS and its augmentation and monitoring system requires the installation of a data-collection station in Crimea in 2014,” Rogozin wrote.

Russia's full-scale plan for Glonass is to build 50 stations in several dozen countries across the globe. In May 2014, the Russian government approved bills to ratify space cooperation agreements with Nicaragua and Vietnam, which, among other measures provide for the construction of ground-based Glonass stations.

The Glonass satellites were used to ensure the work of the Russian precision-guided weapons in Syria, a senior space industry official said 13 May 2016. "Glonass is the system which is the most important for us. Not only is this a system, it ensures national security. This is the matter of those five or six meters in Syria, aiming of precision weapons which is less effective without such systems," Nikolai Testoyedov, the head of the Information Satellite Systems (ISS) company, which manufactures satellites for the Glonass project, said in a speech.

The orbital group of GLONASS system can be extended by eight satellites to the end of 2017, and to send them into space can be used rocket "Proton". This was announced 12 May 2016 by head of the department of navigation space systems "Roscosmos" Andrei Volkov. "Between now and the end of 2017 will be implemented up to eight launches of spacecraft GLONASS system by the criterion of operational necessity", - said Volkov, speaking at the International Satellite Navigation Forum in Moscow.

On 29 May 2016 a Russian navigation spacecraft "Glonass-M", was launched y with the help of the carrier rocket "Soyuz-2.1b" from Plesetsk (Arkhangelsk region), at the estimated time displayed on the target orbit and adopted by the management of land resources of the Titov Main test space center of the Space Force air and space forces of Russia.

"With the spacecraft" Glonass-M" installed and maintained stable telemetric communication onboard the spacecraft are functioning normally," - TASS reported in the management of the press service of the Defense Ministry and the media. "Glonass-M", was launched from Plesetsk, will begin work next month, he told Tass source in the space industry. "The spacecraft will undergo flight testing before commissioning before the end of June - beginning of July".

As of 01 June 2016, the GLONASS orbital grouping, in addition to the satellite launched on 29 May, had 28 satellites, 24 of which are used for their intended purpose, two satellites were on the main designer study, one was listed in the orbital reserve and another - at the stage of flight tests.

The "Fregat" upper stage successfully launched the Russian navigation satellite Glonass-M into the calculated orbit. This was reported in the press service of the Ministry of Defense of Russia. "Launching today, September 22, at 03:03 MSK from the state-owned test spaceport Plesetsk (Arkhangelsk region), the medium-range carrier Soyuz-2.1b successfully launched the Russian navigation satellite Glonass-M into the calculated orbit, - the 2017 report said.

The Soyuz-2.1b launch vehicle with the Glonass-M navigation satellite launched from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in mid-2019. This was announced by a representative of the Ministry of Defense. "On Monday, May 27, at 09:23 Moscow time, a successful launch of the Soyuz-2.1b medium-class launch vehicle with the navigation spacecraft "Glonass-M", - reported in the department. In normal mode All prelaunch operations and start of the carrier were carried out in the normal mode. "Means of the ground-based automated control system for spacecraft of the Russian orbital group monitored the launch and flight of the launch vehicle," the Defense Ministry said.

Now the GLONASS orbital constellation included 26 satellites, 24 of them are used for their intended purpose, one is at the flight test stage, another one is in the orbital reserve. Currently, about fifteen satellites were working beyond their lifetime.

The Russian navigation satellite Glonass-M was launched on the Soyuz-2.1b launch vehicle from the Plesetsk cosmodrome, the press service of the Russian Defense Ministry said. “On December 11, at 11:54 Moscow time, from the launcher number 3 of the platform number 43 of the State Testing Cosmodrome of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation (Plesetsk Cosmodrome) in the Arkhangelsk Region, the Soyuz-2.1b medium-range launch vehicle was successfully launched by the combat crew of the Aerospace Forces with the Glonass-M navigation spacecraft, the military department said 12 December 2019. Prior to the launch on December 11, 27 satellites were included in the GLONASS orbital group. 22 of them are used for their intended purpose, one was in the flight test phase, another was in reserve, and three were in maintenance.


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