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Russia's new-gen GLONASS-K getting ready for launch on Dec 27

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The new-generation GLONASS-K will take up Russia's GLONASS orbital network to 23 operational vehicles.

MOSCOW (BNS): Russia is preparing to launch GLONASS-K – the new, modified version of the GLONASS series of navigation satellites, on December 27.

The spacecraft has completed all ground verification testing and is getting ready to be transported to Russia’s Plesetsk cosmodrome from where it will blast off on board a Soyuz-2 rocket on December 27.

After the failed launch of three GLONASS-M series of satellites last Sunday, the new GLONASS-K would be immediately pressed into operational service instead of undergoing any extensive test, Roscosmos chief Anatoly Perminov said.

“We planned to test the new spacecraft within two or three months, but now we will introduce it immediately after orbiting. So, we will have 23 satellites in the constellation by late 2010,” the Russian space agency chief was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.

The launch of three GLONASS-M series of satellites ended in failure on December 5 when a Proton-M carrier could not orbit them after entering into a wrong trajectory and crashing in the Pacific Ocean.

The launch was intended to complete Russia’s global navigation satellite system for civilian and military use.

Russia presently has a constellation of 26 GLONASS satellites in orbit, of which three are not operational.

With the GLONASS-K launch later this month, the GLONASS orbital network will comprise 23 operational vehicles, a number “enough to provide steady GLONASS signal reception for users all over the world,” Perminov said.

The light-weight GLONASS-K series of satellites, with unpressurised design and having a lifespan of 10-12 years, are slated to gradually replace the GLONASS-Ms.

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