PLESETSK, April 26 (RIA Novosti) – Russia has successfully launched a satellite for the GLONASS navigation system from its northern Plesetsk Cosmodrome, the Defense Ministry reported on Friday.
The GLONASS-M satellite was launched by a Soyuz 2-1b rocket on Friday morning Moscow time, Space Forces spokesman Col. Alexei Zolotukhin said.
After reaching a designated orbit, the satellite will complete several weeks of commissioning and testing before entering regular service.
GLONASS is Russia’s answer to the US Global Positioning System, or GPS, and is designed for both military and civilian use.
The new spacecraft will join the GLONASS system of 23 operational satellites, two spacecraft undergoing in-orbit maintenance and three orbital spares as well as a new-generation GLONASS-K in test flight, according to the Defense Ministry.
The GLONASS satellite constellation, which was initially completed in 1995, suffered from insufficient financing that eventually caused gaps in coverage. But a renewed commitment to the system saw full global coverage restored by 2011.