Ivanov blames Roscosmos for Glonass failings

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Moscow, Jan 24 (UNI) Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov has blamed the country's space agency Roscosmos for the operational shortcomings of Glonass, the Russian equivalent to the US Global Positioning System (GPS).

Glonass (Global Navigation Satellite System) is designed for both military and civilian use and allows users to identify their positions in real time.

The satellite cluster has failed to provide 100 per cent accessibility to the services throughout Russia's territory, and its precision levels do not meet modern requirements.

Mr Ivanov, who oversees the country's military-industrial complex, called for the agency's leaders to take ''personal responsibility for the development of particular components of Glonass and the system as a whole'', Ria Novosti reported.

He said production output at plants manufacturing the satellites is still inadequate.

''Devices on the satellites have not yet reached the necessary reliability level. Unfortunately, competitive domestic navigation equipment is still not available on the Russian market,'' Mr Ivanov said.

A total of 380 million dollars was allocated for Glonass from the federal budget in 2007, and 181 million dollars in 2006.

Like its counterpart GPS, which has been one of the most recognisable symbols of space applications around the world, Glonass was born at the height of the Cold War for primarily military purposes.

The system currently consists of 18 satellites. Another six satellites will be added to the Glonass system this year, and the first two improved Glonass-K satellites are set to be launched in 2009.

The fully operational Glonass cluster will consist of 24 Glonass-M and Glonass-K satellites by 2010, with 21 used for transmitting signals and three for on-orbit spares, deployed in three orbital planes.

According to various media sources the precision of location searches by GPS stands at one meter, while Glonass' precision varies between tens of meters.

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