Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) and Indian Agreement

(Russian equivalent of U.S. GPS)

India in partnership with Russian GLONASS satellites

India is entering into an official agreement with Russia to be a part of its Glonass or Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS)

After America's Global Positioning System (GPS), Glonass is currently the only other satellite-based navigation system and it would be available for Indian military applications.

  • Under pacts signed in December, 2004, during the Indo-Russia summit in New Delhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Moscow visit in December last year, ISRO and Roskosmos agreed to closely cooperate in the development of new generation GLONASS-K navigation satellites and launch them from the Indian space center with the help of Indian rockets to speed up the completion of the GLONASS system amid growing competition.
  • Russia successfully launched on December 25 three GLONASS satellites, bringing to 17 the number of Russia's in-orbit navigation spacecraft, plus two laser reflectors.
  • Full global navigation requires 24 spacecraft.
  • IRKUT sources say the Sukhoi Su-30MKI multi-role fighters supplied to the Indian Air Force are already equipped with GPS and GLONASS receivers for navigation.
  • India is also a partner in the European Union's Galileo system, which is scheduled to be ready by 2008, but since Galileo would only be for civilian use, joining the Russian Glonass becomes significant.
  • India's goal to be a global military power is dependent on access to satellite navigation.
  • Some variations of the Brahmos cruise missile and many future weapons being developed on the concept of "network-centric warfare" would depend on satellite navigation for precision, and Glonass is the only option, says a senior Indian military scientist.
  • Operated by the Russian Federation Ministry of Defense, Glonass is in bad shape today with just eight satellites providing the global navigation.
  • For a precise system, especially for military purposes, at least 24 satellites are required, so that three satellites are available over a particular area of the earth at any given time.
  • This week Russian Defense Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov announced plans to launch three Glonass satellites on Christmas Day (2005).
  • By 2008, Glonass expects to have seventeen satellites, which would make it accurate enough for military applications.
  • In the long run, the two sides would work towards having 24 satellites, making Glonass as robust as the U.S. GPS.
  • Then India would be among a handful of countries with a global navigation system for military applications.
  • The US is already in talks with the European Union to ensure that the Galileo system is not made available for military applications.
  • The Glonass system, military sources say, would give India an advantage over most countries in a future when network-centric warfare would be a normal function.

    The Global Positioning System (GPS)

  • The first GPS satellite was launched by the U.S. Air Force in early 1978.
  • There are now at least 24 satellites orbiting the earth at an altitude of about 11,000 nautical miles.
  • The high altitude insures that the satellite orbits are stable, precise and predictable, and that the satellites' motion through space is not affected by atmospheric drag.
  • These 24 satellites make up a full GPS constellation.
  • GPS satellites pass over any point on the earth twice a day continuously broadcasting satellite positions and timing data via radio signals at the speed of light and take approximately 6/100ths of a second to reach the earth.

    The Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS)

  • Glonass was launched in the early 1980s to rival America's GPS.
  • It fell into bad times when Russia entered a phase of economic confusion.
  • Not enough replacement satellites were sent, leaving Glonass today with only eight operational satellites.

    The European Galileo System

  • Galileo is Europe's contribution to the next generation Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS).
  • The service will be free at the point of use, but a range of payable services with additional features will also be offered.
  • Design of the Galileo system is reaching final stages and the delivery of initial services is expected to be ready by 2008.

    Why a satellite-based navigational system?

  • Any application where location information is needed is a possible candidate for this system.
  • The system’s potential in contributing to precision warfare has been tested in some parts; particularly in the Iraq war by the U.S., and widely discussed globally.
  • With India’s global position in the subcontinent, as well as its problems with terrorist movements, access to such a system is expected to give both its military and civilian administration a clear advantage over its potential foes.
These clips, or excerpts, come from the Daily News & Analysis (DNA)
Digital Edition
, located in India.

Russian rocket takes three navigation satellites into space, December 25, 2005

A Russian Proton-K rocket blasted off from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan carrying three GLONASS navigation satellites.

One of the satellites is from an older generation, while the other two are of the new GLONASS-M type, the ITAR-TASS news agency said Sunday.

The GLONASS global navigation system was developed by the Russian army in the 1980s and is the country's equivalant to the US GPS system or Europe's Galileo. But its development has been slowed by funding shortages.

When the three satellites are placed in orbit, Russia will have seventeen GLONASS satellites operating.

Additional Information about Russian satellite launches

  • Russia launched the three navigation satellites into space on a Proton-K booster rocket that blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the Space Forces said.
  • The system, developed during the 1970s, originally had 24 satellites but their number has dwindled. The three satellites launched Wednesday will bring the system strength up to 12, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency, which added that the system needs 15-18 satellites to operate normally.
  • GLONASS, a Russian acronym for Global Navigation Satellite System, was developed by the Russian military to enable ships, planes and ground troops to pinpoint their position anywhere on earth to within 50 feet (15 meters).
  • Like the United States' satellite network, called the Global Positioning System (GPS), the Russian network can be used by civilians who have the proper equipment. But the location devices are not yet widely available in Russia.
  • Most of Russia's satellites were designed during the Soviet era and have a life span of just a few years, and the struggling space industry lacks the funds to develop longer-lasting space vehicles that would be more cost-efficient.
  • Russian Space Agency chief Yuri Koptev said last year that Russia was on the brink of losing the GLONASS system, which the military needs to collect data for launches of mobile ballistic missiles and obtain other essential navigation services.

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