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Russia’s GPS rival to survive on private investments

Published time: January 17, 2012 16:55
Edited time: January 17, 2012 20:55

Proton-M carrier rocket with three GLONASS satellites (RIA Novosti / Oleg Urusov)

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Developers of Russia's GPS rival program, the GLONASS navigation system, have been left without state funding.

This comes after the program’s directors failed to submit the documents needed to allocate government money on time.

At first, the funding program was to be implemented by December 31, 2011, with the government approving a $10 billion draft back in autumn. But when the Ministry of Economic Development asked the GLONASS team to present a detailed report of the expenses they were planning to cover, the specialists were unable to pull through.

Now they will have to seek private sources to fund the project.

The GLONASS team claims the lack of funding may undermine the system’s image, which was itself extremely hard to develop.

“In order to make GLONASS competitive, we need to constantly modernize and develop it,” said the deputy head of the project, Sergey Revnivykh. “It’s simply unprofitable to freeze the project now that its space segment is ready.”

Currently, the GLONASS system has 31 satellites in orbit (24 of them are in use) and three on reserve, with another two being tested. There are also Glonass-M spacecraft, Proton-M carriers, and two Soyuz carriers that will deliver the next satellites into orbit.

Three Glonass-M navigation satellites, costing over $80 million, crashed into the Pacific Ocean in December 2010.