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Russia launches 3 satellites to complete global navigation sys

Russia today successfully launched three navigation satellites to complete its global navigation satellite system for civilian and military use, which was in disarray after the Soviet collapse in 1991.

world Updated: Dec 06, 2010 14:55 IST

Russia on Sunday successfully launched three navigation satellites to complete its global navigation satellite system for civilian and military use, which was in disarray after the Soviet collapse in 1991.

A Russian Proton-M SLV launched the three GLONASS-M satellites from Baikonur in Kazakhstan. "It was text book launch, the Proton rocket lifted off at 13:25 pm Moscow time (15:55 IST).

"After three hours the three GLONASS-M spacecraft will be placed into orbit to complete the formation of the Russian GLONASS satellite cluster," a spokesman of the Roskosmos federal space agency was quoted as saying by Rossiya 24 TV channel.

After six weeks the freshly launched navigation satellites will be commissioned to provide full global coverage to the civilian and military users.

For its global coverage GLONASS needs a cluster of 24 satellites.

Russia currently has a total of 26 GLONASS series spacecraft in orbit, but three of them are not operational.

The three GLONASS-M satellites launched today will allow Russia to operate a complete GLONASS network of 24 operational satellites and have several satellites in reserve. The civilian segment will be 'free to air' for owners of GLONASS receivers.

Under an intergovernmental agreement the Indian Armed Forces, will have access to the space-based Russian system, a rival of the US Pentagon controlled GPS.

China, which was denied access to the military segment of GLONASS by Russia, is building its own satellite navigation system which it is expected to share with Pakistan.

Stung by the switching off GPS during the Balkan war by the Pentagon, which left thousands of GPS users helpless for some time, including civilian aircraft, European Union is also in the process of creating its Galileo system.