On the night of February 12-13, the GLONASS-M #54 spacecraft left ISS-Reshetnev’s facilities in Zheleznogorsk, Russia, and was transported by air to the Plesetsk cosmodrome.
A Soyuz 2.1b / Fregat rocket with the navigation satellite GLONASS-M #54 on board is scheduled for launch in mid-March. The exact launch date is due to be set at a meeting of the state commission.
As soon as the satellite arrived to the spaceport, the joint team of ISS-Reshetnev specialists and the cosmodrome’s staff members started the launch preparation campaign.
Five satellites of the GLONASS-M series are planned for launch in 2014 to maintain GLONASS in its full operational capability. Three satellites will be launched in a single batch, while the other two will fly into orbit in two single launches.
GLONASS-M #54 will also carry an additional instrument – a high-accuracy thermal stabilization unit that was installed on the spacecraft to undergo testing and flight qualification. Next-generation spacecraft intended for the GLONASS system are going to be equipped with this instrument to provide increased positioning accuracy.
Three more GLONASS-M spacecraft have already been built by ISS-Reshetnev and are being stored at the company’s premises waiting for launch.