Yesterday early morning Soyuz rocket successfully put in orbit a new generation of satellite as a part of GLONASS – Russian alternative to American GPS. GLONASS-K is the latest version of the satellite design, developed by Reshetnev Information Satellite Systems. The K Series are an advanced improvement of the previous M second-generation satellites, with longer lifespans and better accuracy.
Development of GLONASS began in the Soviet Union in 1976. By the turn of the this decade, GLONASS had achieved 100 percent coverage, with the full orbital constellation of 24 satellites operational in 2011. The Russians are continually launching GLONASS satellites, with varying success. One of the biggest failures came when three GLONASS-M birds were lost when their Proton-M launch vehicle dramatically failed during launch.