GLONASS Not Glowing With Success
Russia's space chief said that the launch of three satellites aimed at bolstering the country's planned GPS-type navigation system was delayed due to a malfunction in an earlier launched satellite, this according to news agencies.
The comments by Federal Space Agency head Anatoly Perminov signaled yet more problems for the Global Navigation Satellite System, which has faced repeated technical issues and delays. The GLONASS project is ultimately supposed to have 24 satellites to provide navigation services worldwide to compete with the U.S. Global Positioning System — currently, there are only 18 satellites in orbit. Another three satellites had been scheduled to launch last Friday, but Perminov said such was postponed due to a satellite of the same type that was launched earlier suffering an unspecified technical problem. Experts, apparently, need at least a month to what the problem is before launching more satellites. Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, who is in charge of the GLONASS project, said Friday that 18 satellites now in the system are enough to provide navigation services within Russia. He acknowledged, however, that the development of the project has been slowed by the shortage of electronic maps.
Efforts to launch domestic production of GLONASS receivers also have faced difficulties, according to Russian media reports. Locally made GLONASS receivers appear to be bulky and outdated, compared with GPS receivers, some of which are the size of cell phones or even included in the newest generation cell phones. Experts have indicated that another major problem with GLONASS has been the shorter lifespan and poor reliability of its satellites when compared to U.S. GPS satellites. Newer GLONASS-M satellites are supposed to have a lifetime of seven years, compared to the three years of their predecessors.
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