Russia to introduce new GLONASS satellites this year

(24 Jan 2021) Russia plans to put five GLONASS navigation satellites into orbit this year, including four next-generation satellites.

Director General of ISS-Reshetnev, Nikolay Testoedov said that GLONASS-K2 flight tests were expected to start in 2021 and Russia planned to make 15 such satellites. According to Testoedov, Russia plans to launch one last GLONASS-M satellite this year, as well as its first GLONASS-K2 satellite.

"This year, five satellite launches are planned: of the last GLONASS-M, in the course of the year, two GLONASS-Ks, in the second and third quarters, two GLONASS-K2s, in the third and fourth quarters," a space source was quoted as saying by Sputnik news agency, adding that the launch schedule might be subject to change.

In October, Russia put its third GLONASS-K satellite into orbit. The satellite's launch was postponed several times, starting from March 2020, amid production delays. The first GLONASS-K satellite was launched in February 2011, while the second one was launched in December 2014.

Russia has been launching GLONASS-M satellites since 2003 and has made over 50 satellites of this older model. The GLONASS-K models produce more navigational signals than the GLONASS-Ms and have a longer service life.

There are currently 28 satellites in the Russian GLONASS constellation, 23 of them are operational, two are in maintenance. In February, spokesperson of Russian satellite maker ISS-Reshetnev said that nine next-generation GLONASS-K satellites would be added to the constellation by 2022.

Reference: Sputnik