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History of GLONASS development

Full-fledged development of the Russian navigation satellite system began in the 1960s, and the first navigation satellite Cosmos-192 was launched on 23 November 1967. Positioning accuracy supported by that satellite was 250 – 300 meters.

The first-generation Tsiklon-Tsikada navigation system vent into service in 1976. It consisted of six satellites, orbiting the Earth at the altitude of 1,000 kilometers. The system permitted to determine the position of a ship or a submarine every 1.5 – 2 hours and required up to six minutes to get a fix. Positioning accuracy was improved to 80 – 100 meters.

Effective use of the low-orbit satellite navigation systems by the Navy generated extensive interest in the technology. The need for an all-purpose navigation system, which would meet the requirements of all potential users – airplanes, ships, land vehicles and spacecraft – became evident.

The new system had to provide simultaneous radio visibility of no less than four satellites from any point on earth at all times, while keeping the total number of space vehicles to a minimum. This consideration limited constellation orbital heights to no more than 20,000 kilometers (higher orbits do not result in wider coverage area and, consequently, fewer space vehicles). To ensure concurrent visibility of that at least four satellites to all users, a constellation of 18 space vehicles is required. The total number of satellites was increased to 24, however, in order to improve positioning accuracy and performance by giving the option to pick the best four from all visible space vehicles.

Flight testing of the Russian medium earth orbit navigation system GLONASS commenced in October 1982 with launch of the Kosmos-1413 space vehicle. By 1995, all 24 navigation satellites were in orbit, completing the constellation.

The system was ordered by the Ministry of Defense, and system testing and operation was carried out by the Directorate of the Space Units Commander (later Military Space Forces and now the Space Forces).


The work on creating the system, which later became to be known as GLONASS, began. Many organizations were involved in building the Global Navigation Satellite System GLONASS. The effort was spearheaded by these that worked on the first-generation satellite navigation system: Krasnoyarsk Applied Mechanics Design Bureau (now Information Satellite Systems) and Institute of Space Device Engineering (now Russian Space Systems).
Technical development plan was prepared; it called for achieving horizontal accuracy of 20 to 30 meters, vertical accuracy of 10 to 20 meters, and velocity vector accuracy of 3.5 cm/sec once the GLONASS System was fully deployed.
The first GLONASS satellite was launched into orbit on 12 October 1982.
Government testing of the satellite system GLONASS (partial satellite constellation) is completed.
By Presidential Decree, GLObal NAvigation Satellite System GLONASS was accepted into service by the Russian Defense Ministry. The constellation included eight satellites at the time.
The number of GLONASS space vehicles was brought to 24, completing the satellite constellation and providing global positioning coverage at all times.
Global Navigation System Federal Target Program was adopted; the program provides for full coverage of the Russian territory by 2008.
Launch of the first GLONASS-M second-generation satellite with improved positioning accuracy and extended operational lifespan of seven years.
To maintain the satellite constellation and develop the GLONASS system, one GLONASS and two GLONASS-M space vehicles were lunched into orbit.
GLONASS development continues with the launch of three additional GLONAS-M satellites.
Three GLONAS-M space vehicles were launched into orbit, bringing the number of functional satellites in the constellation to 16.
Six additional GLONASS-M space vehicles were launched between September and December. The total number of satellites in the GLONASS system reaches 20. On 12 September 2008 Vladimir Putin signed RF Government Resolution on increasing GLONASS Program financing by 67 billion rubles, day after the final approval by the RF Government of the draft law “On navigation activities in the Russian Federation”, which will govern the use of the GLONASS system. According to Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Ivanov, the meeting, at which the draft was approved, took place on 11 September, “With participation of all interested ministries and departments”. Clarifying the needed for the new legislation, the Deputy Prime Minister pointed out that “Navigation activities in Russia are presently not regulated at all”.
Three GLONAS-M satellites were launched.
Six additional GLONAS-M space vehicles were launched, bringing the constellation to the total of 22 satellites. Integral availability of GLONASS positioning is 100% in Russia and 99.5% throughout the world.
The first GLONASS-K third-generation space vehicle with improved positioning accuracy and operational lifespan extended to ten years was launched on 26 February. GLONASS-M space vehicle has been launched into orbit on 3 October 2011.
Three GLONASS-M satellites were placed into baseline orbit on 4 November 2011 using Proton-M launch vehicle with Brize-M upper stage.