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Russia launches GLONASS satellites
Posted: Mon, Dec 27, 2004, 12:19 PM ET (1719 GMT)
GLONASS spacecraft illustration (NPO PM) A Proton rocket successfully launched three GLONASS navigation satellites on Sunday. The Proton-K booster lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 8:54 am EST (1354 GMT) Sunday and placed three GLONASS navigation satellites into transfer orbits. Two of the satellites were standard GLONASS spacecraft with three-year lifetimes while the third was a modernized GLONASS-M spacecraft with a seven-year lifetime. The GLONASS system, similar to the American GPS system and the European Galileo system under development, fell into disrepair after the end of the Cold War, when Russia was unable to launch enough replacement satellites to maintain the constellation. The launch brings the number of GLONASS spacecraft in orbit to 16, at least two of which are on-orbit spares. Russia in recent months has committed itself to bringing the system up to the required minimum of 18 active satellites by 2007, and recently signed an agreement with India that will provide for the launches of GLONASS satellites on Indian launch vehicles.
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