Ivanov puts GLONASS to the test Иванов in Antarctica
Russia’s first vice-premier Sergei Ivanov attended by the minister of transport Igor Levitin and that of natural resources Yuri Trutnev landed on an ice airfield of Novolazarevskaya station in Antarctica. The purpose of the Antarctic assignment of the ministers was a solution of transport problem of Russian polar explorers and test of a Russian navigation system GLONASS. According to Cnews, Sergei Ivanov was accompanied either by the general designer of the GLONASS system Yuri Urlichich.
It seems that the first vice premier, who oversees high technologies and space research, decided to prove that GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System), Russia's equivalent of the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS), is not in so a bad way. In January, Ivanov blew up at Russian space agency Roscosmos and accused its officials of disruption of integration of the GLONASS system. It turned out that Russian system could not compete with its American equivalent; since its satellite components are unreliable and not sophisticated. Moreover, there are considerable oversights in the federal special purpose program itself, so that it should be changed.
The most unpleasant in this story is the fact that earlier Ivanov promised to Vladimir Putin that his Labrador Connie would get the satellite navigation collar already in the middle of 2008.
However, this time Ivanov was satisfied with operation of GLONASS, with the help of which an Il-76 plane was landed in the Antarctica. “At the moment of our flight, six satellites of GLONASS operated in orbit, even though four were enough for a normal landing,” he told ITAR-TASS.
Ivanov explained that the device equipping the plane received the US’ GPS, but it was “switched off, and the orientation was only for GLONASS, precision of which is three to ten meters”.
He added that so far planes landed in the Antarctic only “by sight, and this warranted a high skill of pilots”.
The minister said GLONASS receivers would be tested on all-terrain vehicles and people in need of their coordinates. Polar explorers received from the minister a complimentary buoy, which is designed to inform a foundering ship or plane about their bearings.
Thereby Sergei Ivanov decided to promote GLONASS in severe Arctic conditions. During the Roscosmos board in January Ivanov complained that first GLONASS receiver had been sold out, though they had come into the market shortly before the New Year. In fact, there are no traces of GLONASS navigators for motorists in shops. Somewhere there are demos in windows; and none of shop assistants could say anything about it, since nobody had ever hold in his hand. According to the Independent Newspaper, shop assistants were said to answer that all navigators had been sold out. It is known for sure, that there are Glospace auto navigators in the cars of Vladimir Putin and Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexi II.
At the moment there are 15 working satellites of GLONASS system orbited. Roscosmos argues that in February GLONASS system covers 90% of territory of Russia and 80% of that of the whole world.
To cover all the world 24 satellites are needed. Ivanov promised that GLONASS would be complete with 24 satellites in a year and a half. According to him, the problem is not with spacecraft, but with ground-based equipment.
According to experts, production of one satellite costs $10 mln, $35 mln are needed to launch a carrier rocket Proton-M, which is able to carry into orbit three satellites at once. In 2008 10,3 bln rubles were allocated for GLONASS from the federal budget, in 2009 and 2010 - 10,7 bln и 6,3 bln, respectively. At the same time it is not clear whether GLONASS will bring in return. For common consumer it is inferior to GPS in all respects; and its only advantage is that state agencies on the territory of Russia must use GLONASS exclusively. In May 2007 Putin signed an edict, according to which all federal authorities and all their entities in charge must use only domestic navigating system.