In the next few years, Russia will begin massive tests and orbiting of a new generation of space satellites, more updated and having a longer service life. Their services can be enjoyed by both military and non-military specialists, the newspaper Izvestia writes.
Vladimir Popovkin, Commander of the Space Troops, notes that some 100 Russian spacecraft, 60 of which military, are now in orbit. This number has been axed by 2.5 times since 1990. Until recently, Russia has been putting into orbit craft of the 1980s-1990s models. Now, it will be brand-new satellites. Tests of the new communication system Molnia have begun as well as of the other new reconnaissance and communication systems and a new carrier rocket.
The new Russian orbital group of navigation satellites, GLONASS, will be deployed in 2008. It now has eleven craft, while a consistent signal requires at least 18 of them in orbit. Another problem is a longer orbital life of satellites. So far, it is three years on an average. Ten to twelve years is the goal, to be reached by 2006, according to Vladimir Popovkin.
The user part of the GLONASS project has the greatest changes in store. This system of pinpoint establishing the position of a place on the Earth will with time be not only military: the non-military will also make use of it, as is the case with the United States' GPS. The GLONASS error for civilian users will be not more than 30 metres, Mr. Popovkin said.
However, mass production of equipment to receive signals from satellites is still an open question. The 2003-MAKS aerospace show exhibited many products for this purpose, but all of them were military. Today, GLONASS efficiency will depend on its commercial success, the commander said.