Putin urges CIS countries to join Glonass

By IANS/RIA Novosti,

Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on the members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) to join Glonass, Russia’s global positioning system.

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“This system has the capability to provide considerable benefits in the economic sphere, since it reduces cargo transportation costs on all transportation systems, and it definitely increases the safety of all types of transportation,” Putin said.

The CIS, a loose organisation of former Soviet republics, includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine.

Putin said he hoped that his colleagues from the CIS will “take an interest in this project”.

Glonass is Russia’s answer to the US Global Positioning System (GPS), and is designed for both military and civilian use. The system, which was initially completed in 1995, suffered from insufficient financing that eventually caused gaps in coverage. But a renewed commitment to the system saw full global coverage restored in 2010.

A group of 31 Glonass satellites is currently in orbit, with 24 Glonass-M in operation and seven others in reserve or undergoing trials.

By 2020, Russia plans to have 30 satellites in orbit, including six in reserve. Russia plans to launch 13 Glonass-M satellites in 2012-2020 to support the orbital grouping, with 22 new-generation Glonass-Ks set to replace those that are outdated.