Russia: A Russian Soyuz rocket launched a Glonass navigation satellite into orbit on 24 March from northwestern Russia. The Soyuz-2.1b took off at 2:54 a.m. Moscow time from the country’s northern Plesetsk space center, inserting a Glonass-M satellite into orbit where it is now functioning normally, Colonel Alexei Zolotukhin told RIA Novosti.
The Glonass-M satellite (designated number 54) was manufactured by ISS-Reshetnev and is designed for a seven-year operational life. On the night of 12-13 February, 2014 the Glonass-M spacecraft left ISS-Reshetnev’s facilities and was transported by air to the Plesetsk cosmodrome.
It is planned that five satellites of the Glonass-M series will be delivered into orbit in 2014 in order to maintain the national navigation system GLONASS in its full operational capability. Three satellites will be launched in a batch of three, while the rest two will fly into orbit in two single launches.
The Glonass-M will also carry an additional instrument – a high-accuracy thermal stabilization unit which was installed onto the spacecraft to undergo testing and flight qualification. Next-generation spacecraft intended for the Glonass system are going to be equipped with this instrument to provide increased positioning accuracy.
Another three Glonass-M spacecraft have already been built by ISS-Reshetnev and are currently stored at the company’s premises waiting for launch.
The launch was the third of a Glonass satellite from Plesetsk, most prior satellites having been launched aboard Proton rockets from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur space center.