Russia to set record with 39 space launches in 2009

December 29th, 2008 - 6:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Dec 29 (RIA Novosti) Russia is planning to conduct 39 space launches in 2009 - the largest number by any country till date - despite the current global financial crisis, the head of the Russian Space Agency said Monday. “We have scheduled a record number of launches for next year. We are planning to carry out 39 launches, half of them commercial and civilian satellites,” Anatoly Perminov said.

With 26 launches in 2007 and 27 this year, Russia has established itself a world leader in this sphere, Perminov said, adding that Moscow would meet all its obligations with international partners in a variety of joint space programmes.

“Despite the difficulties created by the (global financial) crisis, we are preparing to launch in 2009 four manned space missions instead of two, and we are planning to send six Progress cargo vehicles to the International Space Station instead of four,” the space agency chief said.

Perminov also said there were no changes in Russia’s Global Navigation Satellite System (Glonass) satellite programme.

“We will conduct two launches with three satellites each to increase the Glonass orbital grouping by six satellites,” he said.

Glonass was developed by the Russian military in the 1980s to compete with the US Global Positioning System (GPS) and Europe’s Galileo.

It currently consists of 19 satellites, of which 16 are operational, two are undergoing maintenance, and one is due to be withdrawn. The system requires 18 satellites for continuous navigation services covering the entire territory of the Russia, and 24 satellites to provide services worldwide.

Six new satellites were added to the Glonass network in 2008, and according to Preminov the number of satellites in the network would be increased to 30 by 2011.

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