Friday, February 25, 2011

Russia to launch GLONASS satellite

A Soyuz booster rocket with the first new generation GLONASS satellite will soar aloft from the Plesetsk cosmodrome today."The launch of the medium-class Soyuz 2.1b booster rocket with the Fregat acceleration unit and a new generation GLONASS-K spacecraft is scheduled for 06:15, Moscow time," a Space Troops official said in Moscow.The purpose of the upcoming launch is to boost the orbiting cluster of GLONASS units. It will be the first launch of the GLONASS satellite this year.

Earlier, aerospace officials had told that "it the first time a GLONASS satellite will be launched from Plesetsk.""Earlier, all units of this system were taken to orbit from Baikonur. It is the first time a Soyuz booster rocket will be used. Previously, all satellites were orbited by the Proton booster, capable of soaring aloft with three such spacecraft".It is the first time a new generation satellite which has advantages over the previous models, will be deployed in orbit," the aerospace official said.

GLONASS-K is the first Russian-made on-hermetically-sealed navigation satellite, with a 10-year service life.It masses 935 kilograms (the older model's weight reaches 1,415 kilograms) and boasts better navigational sighting as it has a third frequency in L-band.Also, it carries equipment of the international KOSPAS-SARSAT search and rescue system.The Reshetnev holding has been developing it with the scope of the federal program "Global Navigation System."The operation of CLONASS-K unit will cut expenses to maintain the full cluster of 24 units, and improve the accuracy of positioning data to several decimeters (versus the current six meters).

According to the Central Research Institute of Machine Building, there are 26 satellites in the GLONASS system as of now, of which 20 are in dedicated use, two are in reserve and four are out of operation for maintenance.Russia suspended the launches of the Proton boosters after the abortive launch of three GLONASS-M satellites last December.

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