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Russian Glonass. A Rival to GPS?
December 7, 2010 16:35

This Sunday Russian project to rival America's GPS suffered setback. Three satellites compliting the Glonass system failed to reach the orbit. The crash in the Pacific was caused by a programming error. The crash cost approximately $500 million, and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered a full audit of the entire $2 billion program and an investigation into the failure.

Glonass is a radio-based satellite navigation system. It is an alternative and complementary to the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS), the Chinese Compass navigation system, and the planned Galileo positioning system of the European Union (EU). The development of this system began in 1976 with a goal of global coverage by 1991. It was developed to provide real-time position and velocity determination, initially for use by the Soviet military for navigation and ballistic missile targeting. With Glonass falling rapidly into disrepair, a special-purpose federal program named "Global Navigation System" was undertaken by the Russian government on August 20, 2001. According to it, the Glonass system was to be restored to fully deployed status by 2011.

Richard Langley, professor of Geodesy, Geo-information Science and Engineering University of New Brunswick, believes that Glonass will be fully operational by the next year. According to Richard, the crash of the satetellites is just a temporary difficulty. Richard Langley welcomes the creation of Glonass system and believs that the more navigation systems we have — the better.

Nowadays there is a question if Glonass will be the GPS rival or not. "Probably they will be partners. One system will suppirt the other. For the ordinary consumers the more alternative stuff they have — the better. Even if there is a complete constellation of satellites, there is also a possibility that their signals could be blocked by any building or mountains. As a result, we can reduce signal blocking by increasing the number of satellites, so the navigation will be not interrupted. Glonass is useful not only for Russia, but for the whole world as well", — says Richard Langley.

Russian press-offce VOA asked proffesor, if there is any need for a driver to have a system that recievs signals from GPS and Glonass."The exploitation is payed by the taxpayers of both countries, but the signals themselves are free. The consumer can buy a reciever, a navigator, that recieves signals from both systems. There are few of them on the market, but they are widely used by professionals — for example, in the field of geodesy and military intelligence. Of course this services will be ordinary for the consumers when prices fall", — says Richard Langley.

As it said on CSMonitor, for many Russians, the inauguration of the new national system will be a symbolic first step in the long march of Russia's space program from near oblivion a decade ago to being a major player once again.

Tags: Russian technologies     

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