Russia: Russian space agency on Sunday added a one more satellite to its Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) fleet. The launch occurred from Pad 43/4 at the spaceport, with T-0 reported as 08:44 UTC. The spacecraft was launched with the designation of Glonass n°53, ahead of being renamed Kosmos-2516 once operational in orbit.
Once established in the orbit, the satellite will be operated by the Russian Aerospace Defence Forces. At present, the American positioning system is the only system available to the world. To add more, Europe is currently building its Galileo system, while other countries are building their own GPS systems – such as the Chinese BeiDou Navigation Satellite constellation.
The Russians are continually launching GLONASS satellites, with varying success. One of the biggest failures came when three GLONASS-M birds were lost when their Proton-M launch vehicle dramatically failed during launch.
A GLONASS-K spacecraft was the previous spacecraft to be launched from that range of satellites, with occurred at the end of 2014. That breed is the latest version of the satellite design. Developed by Reshetnev Information Satellite Systems, the first satellite in this range was launched on 26 February 2011.
Sunday’s launch involves a spacecraft from the GLONASS-M range, named GLONASS-M n°53. It follows on from a previous GLONASS-M launch in February.
Development of GLONASS began in the Soviet Union in 1976. By the turn of the decade, GLONASS had achieved 100 percent coverage, with the full orbital constellation of 24 satellites operational in 2011.
Source: NASA space flight