The Glonass mapping system, which is managed by the Russian military and currently works over most of Russia, is expected to cover the globe by the end of 2009 when all of its 24 navigational satellites will be operating. Just this week, Russia has successfully launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which is located in ex-Soviet Kazakhstan, a rocket carrying the last three satellites, which mark the completion of a navigation that may rival America’s Global Positioning System (GPS).
This work began in the 1970’s and the first GLONASS satellites were launched in 1982. Their purpose was to give Soviet armed forces exact bearings around the world. It was President Vladimir Putin who restored the project, lavishly funding it from government coffers.
Based on a constellation of active satellites which continuously transmit coded signals in two frequency bands, GLONASS users can receive these signals from anywhere on the earth’s surface and this system is a counterpart to the United States GPS. The principles involving data transmission and methods of positioning are the same in both systems. Managed for the Russian Federation Government by the Russian Space Forces, GLONASS is operated by the Coordination Scientific Information Center (KNITS), which is part of the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Defense.