GLONASS Will Use Cold-War Technology
It appears are the skies ARE getting more crowded... not with
swarms of VLJs, but rather satellites designed to assist in global
positioning system (GPS) navigation. Soon, US-designed GPS
satellites and Europe's developing Galileo system will face a new
rival in orbit: GLONASS.
Reuters reports Russia aims to launch GLONASS -- short for
Global Navigation Satellite System -- as a direct competitor to the
other two GPS systems. The technology will derive from the former
Soviet Union's Cold War-era plans to deploy the system to assist
Even after the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991,
worked continued on the GLONASS program... but a sharp downturn in
the Russian economy in the late 1990s stalled its development.
"We are planning to deliver all sorts of devices already
available on GPS," said Alexander Gurko, chairman of Dublin,
Ireland-based M2M Telematics, which is leading development of
GLONASS. "From next year we will start producing a consumer product
Alongside Gurko at the Monday
press briefing was Yuri Nosenko -- deputy head of the Russian space
agency Roskosmos -- as well as other GLONASS project leaders.
Resurgence in the program has been trumpeted by Russian leader
Vladimir Putin, buoyed by heady oil revenues and a surge in
nationalist pride in Russia.
Yuri Urchich, head of the Russian institute of space equipment
engineering, said customers worldwide will be receptive to a third
choice for satellite navigation.
"Consumers don't care whether its GPS, GLONASS or Galileo, they
just want a signal," said Urchich.
GLONASS already covers Russia, as well as surrounding former
Russian republics. More satellites will be launched this year,
Gurko said, with the goal being worldwide coverage by a total of 24
satellites by 2009. India has signed an agreement with Russia to
aid in development of the program.
Russian technology leaders state GLONASS isn't meant to rival
GPS or Galileo, per se... but rather provide a backup system, and
extra security. There are also some bugs still to be worked out of
"Of course there are problems," Nosenko said. "Some of them have
a certain history, some of them are new, but they are all being
The United States' GPS system has been available to non-military
users since 1993. As Aero-News has reported,
the European Union hopes to have Galileo fully deployed and
operational by 2011... and China is working on its own GPS system,
Beidou, as well.