Launch of GLONASS navigation satellites

On December 26, 2004 Russia successfully launched Proton-K rocket from the Baykonur launch site. The launch was performed from the launch pad No. 23 of the launch site No. 81 at 16:53 MSK (13:53 UTC). The rocket, equipped with DM-2 upper stage, successfully deployed three GLONASS navigation satellites – Cosmos-2411, Cosmos-2412, and Cosmos-2413. The total number of operational GLONASS satellites in the constellation to 14.

The Space Forces reported that the satellites reached their intended orbits at 20:38 MSK (17:38 UTC). The orbits are semi-synchronous circular with altitude of 19137 km and the inclination of 64.8 degrees. All satellites were launched into the first orbital plane of the constellation. According to the Glonass Information Center of the Ministry of Defense, the satellites have internal numbers 712 (Cosmos-2411), 796 (Cosmos-2413), and 797 (Cosmos-2412) and they will be deployed at points 7, 1, and 8 respectively. This will complete deployment of satellites in the first plane (points 2 to 6 have been filled already). The international designations and NORAD catalog assigned to satellites are: Cosmos-2411 - 2004-053B/28509, Cosmos-2412 - 2004-053C/28510, and Cosmos-2413 - 2004-053A/28508 [information on designations was updated on February 10, 2005].

One of the satellites – Cosmos-2411/GLONASS-712 – is the second satellite of the Glonass-M type. These satellites are expected to have longer lifetime than their predecessors. The first satellites of this type – Cosmos-2404/GLONASS-701 – was launched in December 2003 and after a period of tests was accepted for service on 12 October 2004.


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I'd like to know whether Russian GLONASS constellation is now an equivalent of US Navstar/GPS system. It means Russia can deploy now identical weapon systems like US: JDAM, JSOW, WCMD, JASSM, Tactial Tomahawk, possesses the same accuracy. I ask because these weapons are very accurate and very cheap, therefore ideal for Russia in its present financial conditions.

Glonass is far from complete - a full GPS-comparable constellation would include 24 satellites. The current plan is to bring the number of satellites to 18 by 2007.

Do you know how many satellites (and what types) Russia has on orbit now?

I couldn't give you an exact number - there is uncertainty with operational status of some satellies. But I hope you could get an idea of the status of the Russian military space program from my recent paper.

Ok, I have read it and I think thad now there are about 40 active Russian satellites. But I don't know if it is high number. So in comparsion with Russia do you know how many military satellites is now in US, PRC, NATO and India inventory?

Why do you think the numbers are important? They are not. In any event, I'm not sure this kind of comparisons would make sense.

It really does not matter if the Glonass system is complete at this point. So many civilian uses of US GPS i.e. Airline and Ship Navigation, GIS Utility Location collection, emergency and about 7000 other uses insure the US cannot shut off the system because it would shut down entire industries. The military could turn selective availability on again but, advances in RTK solutions and the ability to use the partial GLONASS constilation in orbit today would make that a waste of time. The main reason they are upgrading there own system is because of the orbital paths of the US system, it is not as effective in Russia, India Etc. Bottom line is they don't need there own system to shoot at us...they can use ours because shutting it off is not an option at this point.

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