Russia also developed its own global navigation satellite system
known as GLONASS. The first generation was launched at the height of
the Cold War, but the fall of the Soviet Union meant that launches of
generation satellites (known as GLONASS-M) didn't begin until
2007. Many satellites in the original constellation failed during
that time, and many companies adopted the U.S. GPS system instead.
At least 18 satellites are needed in the GLONASS constellation to
maintain coverage of Russian territory, and 21 for global coverage.
The system today consists of 19 satellites, but only 16 are currently
operational as one is being prepared for decommissioning and two are
undergoing maintenance, according to the Russian Space Agency.
A Proton rocket launched three more GLONASS-M satellites into
orbit today, and the Russian Space Agency is rushing them into
service. Three new third generation satellites (GLONASS-K) will be
launched in February in order to restore
global coverage. Russia hopes to have 30 satellites in the
constellation sometime during 2011, in order to increase reliability
and signal strength.
The European Union is also planning its
own global navigation satellite system known as Galileo, which would
have a higher degree of precision over GPS. The first launch of
Galileo satellites is planned for next year. Receivers capable of
from all three systems have been designed which would be
capable of a much higher level of reliability and accuracy.