Navigation satellite Glonass-M sent into orbit

The booster Soyuz-2.1b, carrying a Global Navigation Satellite System (Glonass) satellite, was successfully launched from the Plesetsk spaceport and put into orbit. Space Troop teams monitored the launch through the ground automated control system.

“The launch of the booster and the orbiting of the satellite passed as scheduled,” a spokesman for the Russian Space Troops, Aleksey Zolotukhin, told Itar Tass on Monday. “The satellite Glonass-M was put under control at 3:55 a.m. Moscow time."

The satellite weighs 1,415 kilograms and is expected to serve for seven years.

More Glonass launches are scheduled for this year. A Proton-M rocket with a Briz-M booster will launch a Glonass-M trio from Baikonur on November 4, while a Soyuz-2-1B rocket with a Fregat booster will bring another Glonass-M into orbit from Plesetsk on November 22.

The Glonass satellite constellation consists of 24 space vehicles, evenly distributed in three orbital planes. Satellites operate in circular orbits at altitudes of 19,100 kilometers. This configuration permits uninterrupted global coverage of the Earth’s surface and terrestrial space by the navigation field.

Data from NIS Glonass

The Global navigation satellite system Glonass is intended for determining location, speed and exact time by military and civilian users.

The system will provide continuous year-round global navigation support globally regardless of weather conditions. The system is available to a vast number of users on the Earth’s surface and at elevations of up to 2,000 kilometers.

The first Glonass test flight took place in October 1982, and by 1993 the Glonass system was brought into operational testing. In 1995 the full orbit group of 24 satellites was formed. However, a reduction in funding in 1990 for Russia’s space industry led to a deterioration of the Glonass project.

In 2002, the Russian government approved a number of policy documents, including the "Global Navigation System" federal program, which brought new life and funding to the navigation system.

­Glonass vs. GPS

According to Russia’s Federal Space Agency, the main difference between Glonass and GPS is the signal and its structure. The GPS system uses code-division channeling. Glonass uses frequency-division channeling. Also, Glonass satellites’ motion is described as using fundamentally different mathematical models.

While Glonass consists of 24 satellites, GPS can be fully functional with 24 satellites but is currently using 31 of them.