GNSS Satellite (GIOVE-A)

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Wednesday, 17 December 2008

GLONASS Launch Schedule Update

The GLONASS schedule promised two triplet launches this year. The first one took place on September 25. The second is planned for December 25.

All three satellites of the September launch were succesfully taken into serve, in fact in record time! Unfortunately some older GLONASS satellites were decomissioned in the September/October timeframe. So the current GLONASS constellation consists out of 16 active and healthy GLONASS satellites.

The launch in December should bring to total number of satellites up to 19. With the oldest satellites being from 2004. This great number of satellites together with the ever growing size of the GNSS station tracking network makes GLONASS a very interesting addition, and even independent alternative, to GPS. Within the International GNSS Service there are two Analysis Centres that do a full fledged GNSS analysis, i.e., a processing of the combination of GPS and GLONASS observations to estimate the satellite orbits but also Earth Orientation parameters, station coordinates, and atmospheric influences. These two Analysis Centres should start seeing a significant benefit from the combination of the two systems (but more on that in a next post).

The next big step for GLONASS will be the new platform, the GLONASS-K satellites. That will increase the lifetime of the satellites and, more importantly, should move GLONASS from the FDMA technique to the CDMA technique used by GPS and Galileo. That will make all three systems interoperable and will keep the end-user equipment simple and therefore cheap!

Last but not least: Merry Christmas!

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