Russia postpones launch of Glonass satellite for 24 hours

21:28, February 24, 2011      

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The launch of a Russian Soyuz carrier rocket with a navigation satellite, Glonass-K due, has had its Thursday launch postponed 24 hours for technical reasons, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

"For technical reasons, the launch of the Glonass-K satellite is postponed for 24 hours, to a reserve date," ministry spokesman Alexei Zolotukhin said Thursday.

According to the schedule, this will be the first launch of the Glonass-K satellite from the Plesetsk space center in northern Russia since a failed launch last year.

On Dec.5 last year, a Proton-M carrier rocket with three Glonass satellites veered off course and sunk in the Pacific Ocean after its launch.

Investigators said the loss of three Glonass satellites was due to the malfunction of the Proton-M caused by incorrect fueling of the upper booster and the satellites themselves "had nothing to do with the failure."

Glonass is the Russian equivalent of the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS), which is designed for both military and civilian use. The system requires 24 operational and 2-3 reserve satellites in orbit to ensure global coverage.

The Defense Ministry said December's failed launch had not greatly hurt the Glonass navigation system, as the 22 Glonass satellites still operating and other spare satellites were capable of covering Russia's territory.

Source: Xinhua
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