Russia Makes Major Push to Better Use Space Assets

The Russian space agency Roscosmos is leading an effort to improve the use of satellite systems and data for natural resources management, navigation, emergency response, and economic development. The effort extends to effecting internal improvements within Russia and taking a leadership role in key areas as global navigation, climate monitoring, and disaster relief.

Data Infrastructure Improvements

The United Territory Distribution Space Remote Sensing System (UTDS) is a key element in Russia’s strategy. UTDS’ goal is to create a unified remote sensing system that has common standards. Interfax-AVN quoted Roscosmos official Valery Zaichko as saying that UTSA will help resolving the problems with distribution of remote sensing images in the country due to different technical standards,  storage formats and other differences.

The UTDS effort includes:

  • establishment of five or six remote sensing centers will be established in several large Russian cities
  • development of a united accessible geo-spatial data bank on the basis of space remote sensing data
  • initiation of special Roscosmos portal which is to provide access to remote sensing data
  • generation of the national space remote sensing data fund
  • deployment of the data exchange system, etc.

Last Wednesday, Roscosmos launched a new geoportal “to provide governmental structures and common users with the access to space remote sensing images united in a single database. Roscosmos geoportal will be updated daily [and] will give the opportunity to see images made by Russian spacecraft Resource, Meteor, Monitor-E, Ocean-O and others, as well as to the images of the foreign satellites. Geoportal is operational through Roscosmos’ Scientific Earth Monitoring Center,” Roscosmos said.

Russian officials have also announced the establishment of Regional Space Service Centers in Tumen and the Tula region in the near future. The Tumen center is to be created in the local university with the purpose of using space technologies to benefit the region. The Tula center seems to be focused on the installation of satellite navigation on transportation systems, according to media reports.

Cosmonet

Roscosmos is also working on a global information system called Cosmonet that covers air, land and space. Vesti.ru reports:

The project is to develop a new generation of radio, used to convey information the electromagnetic field, as well as the creation of new satellite systems for space Internet wherever fiber will never come.

According to the author of the project, the general designer of “Satellite System Messenger,” Alexander Halkevich, the adaptation of Internet technologies to space conditions and create a new channel of communication between the satellites will solve the problem of so-called special consumers: Ministry of Defence, Emergencies and others – as well as to develop satellite communications and navigation.

Out to test the system, according to Halkevich need three years to implement the project – 20 billion rubles.

IGMASS

While attending the International Academy of Astronautics’ heads of space agencies summit in Washington, D.C., last month, Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov promoted the development of an international global natural and industrial emergency aerospace monitoring system called IGMASS. Roscosmos describes the system as follows:

The distinguishing feature of IGMASS is defined as warning of the world community about global threats, including hazards from the space objects. The Project covers detection of natural disaster precursors through special space, aviation and ground systems. Such phenomena become evident as geo-sphere’s anomalies and provide the opportunity to predict catastrophic events of geological or meteorological nature.

This description includes two interesting areas: hazards from space objects, and natural disaster precursors. RIA Novosti has quoted Russian Space Systems company director Yury Urlichich as saying that an “earthquake precursor monitoring system” could include a constellation of nanosats to monitor “special vibrations in the ionosphere [that] can be used to detect the quake.”

Technicians also are installing sensors  on dams, bridges and similar structures that can be monitored by satellites to monitor their conditions and prevent industrial disasters.

Perminov has also noted that Russia had suffered badly from forest fires, resulting in a need for better climate monitoring within the nation.  “Modern space systems will be deployed by Russia in different LEO, including GSO and high-elliptical ones,” he added, identifying the systems as Meteor-M, Resource-II, Arcon-2M, Electro-L, and Arctica-M.

“IGMASS implementation, together with similar international systems GEOSS and UN’s SPYDER, is in line with the priorities of Russia’s foreign policy,” Perminov said.

GLONASS

GLONASS is Russia’s equivalent of the American Global Positioning System (GPS). The 24-satellite constellation will provide global coverage when it is completed next year.

Russian officials have been busy installing receivers on buses, trucks and other movable objects through the country and everywhere else in the world they have a presence.  Technicians recently installed a system at the Novolazarevskaya station at the South Pole that will provide real-time GLONASS data and Internet service.  Similar systems will be installed at Mirny station in 2011-2012, and in Russkaya after 2015.

The Russians are also making a major effort to make GLONASS the navigation system of choice within the former Soviet sphere.  Officials recently held a regional meeting in Orel that was attended by government officials and corporate representatives from Belorussia, Ukraine, Moldova and other republics.

The larger potential market is fast growing India. Russia and India recently held talks to deepen cooperation that included a commitment to work closely on GLONASS.

“We have signed a substantial package of documents which covers the Russian-Indian cooperation in the field of new technologies, including such areas as satellite navigation, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals,” said Russian President Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. “But today we also reviewed other areas of collaboration where we have had a very good start. We discussed major joint projects, including cooperation in energy, nuclear power, oil and gas production, on which we signed a memorandum, as well as space research. We will boost our cooperation in global navigation satellite system GLONASS.”

One example is a joint venture between Russia and Hyderabad-based HBL Power Systems to market and manufacture GLONASS products in India. The pilot project involves installing equipment on buses that allow operators to better manage their fleets.