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Russia adds three satellites to GLONASS navigation cluster

A Proton-K rocket with three GLONASS navigation satellites onboard was launched from Baikonur at 4:54 p.m. Moscow time on Sunday, a source in the Russian Space Troops press service told Itar-Tass.

The four-stage liquid-fuel rocket will bring the GLONASS satellites to geo-stationary orbits with the height of about 36,000 kilometers in line with the federal space program.

Two GLONASS navigation satellites of the old modification (with a three-year service life) and one modernized satellite GLONASS-M (with a seven-year service life) were launched on Sunday.

The GLONASS cluster made up of eleven functioning and two reserve satellites already has one GLONASS-M in its composition, the source said. That GLONASS-M was put in orbit in December 2003. Such satellites can supply navigation information to an unlimited number of clients around the world and upgrade precision of the coordinates to one meter.

“We will enlarge the GLONASS cluster to 18 satellites by the year 2007 in keeping with the federal space program,” the source said.

India was offered to take part in launches of GLONASS satellites in early December. It is planned to launch satellites from both Russian and Indian spaceports.

The GLONASS cluster has military and civilian users. It is supplying precise coordinates of air, sea, ground and space-based objects round the clock.