Vladimir Radyuhin

MOSCOW: Russia has launched three more satellites to join its indigenous global navigation system Glonass. Three 3,000-pound satellites were placed in orbit by a Proton rocket, which took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan shortly before midnight on Monday. The launch boosts the Glonass constellation to 17 satellites, just one short of the minimum needed to cover the entire territory of Russia. In the next three years, Russia will launch six new communication satellites per year, so as to fully deploy Glonass, the Russian equivalent of the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS), by the end of 2009, Russian Space Agency Roskosmos head Anatoly Perminov said on Tuesday. Under a 2004 agreement, India joined the Glonass project. The two countries agreed to jointly develop the next generation of satellites, Glonass-K, and jointly use the system for civilian and military purposes.