Moscow, Russia, 01 May 2007: GLONASS’s potential still to be realised since the system has not operated at full capacity since 1995 and therefore has not been able to cover the entire world.
Each of Russia’s three Global Navigation Satellite System, or GLONASS, orbital planes will have eight satellites. The U.S. Global Positioning Satellite, or GPS, cluster, which also has 24 spacecraft, plus five stand-by satellites, will eventually increase to 48. Some elements of the GLONASS cluster, which has no standby satellites, are regularly deactivated for maintenance purposes. In fact, the system has not operated at full capacity since 1995 and therefore has not been able to cover the entire world.
One of the 24 satellites flies just above the horizon and so cannot be seen. With its 18 spacecraft, GLONASS will only ensure uninterrupted ship and airplane traffic, while other users will have to wait for two hours or more. For this reason, it is unlikely that GLONASS could operate on the GPS dominated Russian navigation services market in the next five to 10 years.
Russian Transport Minister Igor Levitin said only about 1,200 of Russia’s 5,000 airliners have navigation equipment, mostly GPS receivers (92 percent); GLONASS receivers account for the remaining 8 percent.
Although Russian First Deputy Premier Sergei Ivanov is in charge of the system’s development, President Vladimir Putin has aptly remarked that no one is directly responsible for the end result and for the system’s ground segment. Moreover, Russian enterprises have not yet mastered batch production of user-friendly navigation equipment.