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Glonass should be cheaper, better than GPS: Putin

Moscow, Russia, 12 March 2007 – The global navigation system Glonass should be cheaper and of better quality than the GPS system, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on 12 March.

“You know what attention I pay to Glonass, and I hope relevant attention will be paid to it,” Putin told Cabinet members. Glonass is a Russian version of the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS), which is designed for both military and civilian use, and allows users to identify their positions in real time. The system can also be used in geological prospecting.

In December 2005, President Vladimir Putin ordered the system to be ready by 2008, and First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said Glonass would be available to domestic users for military as well civilian purposes by the end of 2007.

The head of Russia’s Federal Space Agency, Anatoly Perminov, said earlier that Russia is also in talks with the United States and the European Space Agency to prepare agreements on the use of Glonass jointly with the GPS and Galileo satellite navigation systems. The agency plans to have 18 satellites in orbit by late 2007 or early 2008, and a full orbital group of 24 satellites by the end of 2009, he said.

Ivanov said late last year that Russia will lift all precision restrictions on Glonass beginning in 2007, which will enable accurate and unlimited commercial use of the military-controlled global positioning system. Current restrictions limit the accuracy for civilian users of Glonass to 30 meters. The first launch under the Glonass program took place October 12, 1982, but the system was only formally launched September 24, 1993.

Andrei Kozlov, the head of the Reshetnev Research and Production Center in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, Russia’s leading spacecraft manufacturer, said earlier the Glonass system currently has 13 satellites in orbit.

The satellites currently in use are of two modifications – Glonass and its updated version Glonass-M. Glonass-M has a longer service life of seven years and is equipped with updated antenna feeder systems and an additional navigation frequency for civilian users.

A future modification, Glonass-K, is an entirely new model based on a non-pressurized platform, standardized to the specifications of the previous models’ platform, Express-1000. Glonass-Ks’ estimated service life has been increased to 10-12 years, and a third “civilian” L-range frequency has been added. Tests on Glonass-K satellites are scheduled for 2007.