by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) Nov 4, 2011
Russia on Friday successfully launched three satellites for its global navigation system Glonass on a Proton-M rocket from its Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the Russian space agency said.
The launch took place at 4:51 pm Moscow time (1251 GMT) and the satellites, part of a system aimed at rivalling the US GPS, were due to go into their fixed orbits later in the evening.
Successful deployment of the satellites is vital for Russia after three Glonass satellites were lost in December 2010 when they plunged into the ocean after a problem with the rocket.
There have been questions over the reliability of the Russian space programme after a Progress supply ship bound for the International Space Station plunged back into Siberia in August after a technical failure.
Russia launches Glonass satellites - Roscosmos
This was first launch of a Proton-M rocket with Glonass satellites from Baikonur since the failed launch last year which destroyed three Glonass-Ms.
The launch was conducted at 16:51 Moscow time [12:51 GMT] on Friday. "The separation of the satellites is expected at 22:41 Moscow time [18:41 GMT]," the official said.
The launch was postponed for a day on Thursday after a malfunction of the switching network was detected during a check of the ground-based equipment at the launch pad.
Glonass is Russia's answer to the U.S. Global Positioning System, or GPS, and is designed for both military and civilian uses. Both systems allow users to determine their positions to within a few meters.
Russia currently has a total of 27 Glonass satellites in orbit, although only 23 of them are operational.
According to Roscosmos, two Glonass satellites are under maintenance, one is on a standby, and one recently launched satellite is being integrated into the grouping.
The complete Glonass grouping needs 24 functioning and 2-3 reserve satellites to operate with global coverage.
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Russia set to launch Proton-M carrier rocket with 3 Glonass-M satellites
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Nov 04, 2011
Russia's Proton-M carrier rocket with three Glonass-M navigation satellites will be launched on Thursday from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, a spokesman for the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) said. "The launch is scheduled for 16:55 Moscow time [12:55 GMT]. The separation of the satellites is slated for 22:45 Moscow time [18:45 GMT]," the spokesman said. By the end of the ... read more
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