Russia to Complete Glonass Satellite Constellation in May-June

Russia to Complete Glonass Satellite Constellation in May-June
Russia will launch another three Glonass-M satellites on board a Proton heavy carrier rocket in May-June to complete the orbiting Glonass grouping, the head of Russia's space agency Roscosmos said Tuesday, according to Ria Novosti.

The December 5 launch of the Proton-M carrier rocket was supposed to conclude the forming and global coverage of Glonass navigation system; however, the rocket sunk in the Pacific Ocean (read).

Russia has switched on two reserve Glonass-M satellites in orbit to compensate for the ones that were lost. Roscosmos will also launch a Glonass-K satellite in February-March to bring the current number of operational satellites in orbit to 23.

The complete grouping must have 24 operational and 2-3 reserve satellites for Glonass network to operate with global coverage.

The global availability of Glonass is likely to create a race among semiconductors makers, then devices’ manufacturers to support the new satellite constellation. The availability of Glonass and its support in silicon is going to be particularly relevant in difficult environments like urban canyons where the view of the sky is limited and where more satellites will make a difference.

In addition to this technical improvement, Russia is likely to raise taxes on GPS receivers that are not Glonass compatible, pushing all semiconductor vendors to support the constellation (read more here).

Last week STMicroelectronics introduced a dual receiver that is said to cost below $6 in volume pricing (read here). We can expect more announcements to be made in the coming weeks, especially during the Mobile World Congress, starting on February 14th in Barcelona.

Wednesday, January 26th 2011

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