Russia Launches Three New GLONASS Satellites From Kazakhstan
November 3, 2007 7:41 PM
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Russia is working diligently to patch its GLOSNASS system, with launches from Kazakhstan. Very nice!
Russia's GLONASS system just got a boost with the
launch of three new satellites
aboard a Proton-K booster rocket, last Friday. The satellites successfully reached low-earth orbit eight minutes after launch.
GLONASS, for the unfamiliar, is
of the Global Positioning System (GPS) commonly used in the U.S. In English the words that make up the acronym roughly are translated to "
The European Union anticipates the success of a separate system, called the Galileo Network. However
, the system has yet to fully be implemented.
The technology developed during the Cold War went into operation in 1982, was completed in 1985, but fell into disrepair, following the collapse of Russia's communist regime.
Still the Russian government has been
making legitimate attempts to restore
the aging system, as reported on earlier this year at
. The constellation initiated its first public broadcast of May this year.
The Indian government pledged support for the GLONASS system in 2004, but the country have yet to launch any satellites.
The U.S. and Russian governments have also been in talks about making the GPS and GLOSNASS networks interoperable and compatible. The U.S. and European Union have
struck a similar deal as well
The satellite launch last week occurred, not in Russia, but in Kazakhstan, at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Russia rents the facility and the right to launch from Kazakhstan, under a long term contract.
The launch was significant as it was the first Russian launch from the facility since September. Kazakhstan had temporarily banned launches, following a failure in which the Russian launch of another Proton rocket ended in failure. This failed launch sent the Proton booster, full of highly toxic heptyl fuel, plunging into the countryside by the industrial city of Zhezkazgan.
The effects of this incident on the local populous have yet to be fully determined, but launches have resumed with extra precautions. Russia has relied heavily on launches of GLOSNASS satellites from the Baikonur location, in its efforts to repair the network.
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11/4/2007 6:39:20 PM
There are still two pieces that the military controls that they could make use of when/if needed to limit the use of GPS systems to only approved military needs. However trying to use any of them would require an executive order and would likely only be used in cases of sustained extreme national emergency.
There are many commercial and military systems that rely on GPS signals for things other than positioning. GPS time can generally be accurate to within nanoseconds so it is used as a timing source for a variety of circuitry, especially communications. If the government felt it necessary to limit GPS signals to only military receives then that would force portions of the national infrastructure into a fault mode. Much of the official military communications system now rides over a commercial backbone. So limiting GPS signals would also be detrimental to the military. None the less, the capability still exists.
GPS receivers are used in three modes: the global positioning system (GPS), standard positioning system (SPS), and precise positioning system (PPS).
The SPS is available to all GPS receivers worldwide, both military and civilian. When a receiver is in the SPS mode, almanac, navigation, and timing information are received on the non-encrypted course acquisition (CA) code satellite signal. To deny unauthorized users the full accuracy of GPS, the Department of Defense (DoD) can intentionally places errors in the navigation and timing signal. This process is called selective availability (SA). The SA errors are unpredictable and can produce significant horizontal and elevation errors. This is one reason why SPS (commercial grade) receivers are not authorized for combat operations.
SA was turned off by executive order on May, 2, 2000.
The satellites also broadcast an encrypted precise (P/Y) code. This transmission is the basis for the PPS that is used by military GPS receivers. These receivers must have crypto keys loaded to detect and nullify the SA errors, which allows for more accurate position data. Also, the crypto keys provide a means of unscrambling the encrypted P/Y code, which is an anti-spoofing (AS) protection. Military receivers have this capability and are considered to be PPS receivers. Only PPS receivers are authorized for combat operations.
Of course signals can still be jammed. Contrary to some articles, neither SA nor AS have any impact on traditional jamming. When the signal to noise ration is below 34 decibels (db) the system is effectively jammed. Of course putting out a jamming signal like that is about like wearing a big red target on your head in the middle of the battlefield.
So yes, technically it can be done. But, I’m pretty sure that’s not something that will ever happen.
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