Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has announced that the government will spend 115 billion rubles ($3.8 billion) on national space programs in 2011, RIA Novosti reports. Putin said that Russia’s space plans include:
- Launch of about 50 spacecraft in 2011
- Long-range development of the GLONASS navigational system until 2020
- Long-term plan to increase global market share through development of new automated and human spacecraft
- Construction of a new spaceport in the Russian Far East.
In related news, Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov told ITAR-TASS that Russia is gearing up to begin full-scale operations of the GLONASS system over the next six months despite losing three satellites in a launch failure in December:
At present, GLONASS has 21 operational satellites among a total of 26 satellites of the GLONASS-M type orbiting the Earth, according to Perminov. By January 18, one more satellite is expected to become operational, Perminov said, adding that in Februaryâ€“March, a GLONASS-K satellite with enhanced features is expected to be put into orbit, thus increasing the number of operational GLONASS satellites to 23. The GLONASS-K satellite was initially expected to be launched in late December 2010.
In order to cover the entire territory of Russia, GLONASS requires at least 18 operational satellites, and to provide global coverage it requires 24 operational satellites. Perminov, however, said in December that 23 satellites would be enough to cover the entire Earth.
Also, the federal agency preliminarily plans to put three GLONASS satellites into orbit at once in August, Perminov said.