So it is time for an update on GLONASS.
As you may have noticed meanwhile the September has been canceled. There have been all sorts of speculations and it was difficult to get any hard facts. As far as we have been able to figure out the reason for canceling the launch lies in the fact that the GLONASS 726, in orbital slot 22, developed an unexpected problem and has consequently been unhealthy since quite some time. The problem seems to be with the signal generator on board of the satellite.
Now you may wonder, what does that have to do with the September launch. Well, as it turns out the three satellites scheduled for launch in September make use of the same signal generator. So as it is "better to be save then sorry" it was decided to send the satellites back to the factory to check, or more likely replace, the signal generators in all three satellites.
We originally thought that this would then also impair the December launch. However, we have been told that the satellites for the December launch used a different version of the signal generator and thus the December launch is "on track". In fact the last of the three Glonass-M navigation spacecraft intended for cluster 41 was delivered to Baikonur on November 27, 2009 by the JSC Academician M.F. Reshetnev Information Satellite Systems. The first two satellites were delivered to the spaceport on 17 and 23 November and are currently in preparation for launch. The launch date is set for December 18. A bit earlier then the normal "Christmas" launches around the 25 and 26 of December.
The September launch is now scheduled for February 2010.
If both of these launches work out as planned GLONASS will get very close to its full operational capabilities (FOC). The picuture gives the current GLONASS status which is already pretty good.