Putin sanctions additional funds for space, GLONASS

MOSCOW (BNS): GLONASS is the Russian equivalent of United States' Global Positioning System (GPS) and the planned Galileo positioning system of the European Union (EU). A radio-based satellite navigation system, developed by the former Soviet Union GLONASS is now operated for the Russian government by the Russian Space Forces.

The Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported that a total of 9.9 billion rubles ($418.25 million) was allocated for GLONASS satellite system from the federal budget last year, as against 4.7 billion rubles ($200 million) in 2006.

"I have signed a government directive on increased financing of the GLONASS program to the sum of 67 billion rubles ($2.6 bn)," the agency quoted Vladimir Putin telling Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov at a working meeting.

Putin also told Ivanov that he would soon allocate additional funding of 45 billion rubles ($1.8 bn) for the country's space programme, the report said.

Ivanov, who looks after state policies relating to industry development, defence, nuclear and space industries and transportation, said the majority of the funds would go to putting more new satellites to the existing GLONASS satellite grouping.

According to Ivanov, six new GLONASS satellites would be put into orbit this year taking the total to 22 spacecraft. “We are hoping that GLONASS will provide global navigation and positioning coverage by 2012,” the report quoted him as saying.

At the beginning of this month, the head of the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos), Anatoly Perminov, said the number of satellites in the country’s GLONASS navigation system would be increased from the present strength of 16 to 30 by 2011.

According to initial reports for continued navigation services covering the entire country, 18 satellites would be launched and another 24 satellites to provide services globally.

Central Research Institute for Machine Building however notes that out of the 16 satellites, 13 are operating as intended, while two are undergoing maintenance checks and another will be withdrawn from the orbital grouping.

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