Ria Novosti reports that Russia will launch two GLONASS navigation satellites later this year to make up for the loss of three satellites in the recent Proton rocket explosion after launch from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, according to a senior space industry official.
“We are planning to launch two satellites from the Plesetsk space center [in northern Russia] to replenish the GLONASS orbital grouping following the recent Proton-M accident,” said Nikolai Testoyedov, the head of the Information Satellite Systems (ISS) company, which manufactures satellites for the GLONASS project.
The first GLONASS is scheduled for launch in the beginning of September, and the second at the end of October, according to Testoyedov. The official added that both satellites will be launched on board the Soyuz carrier rockets, which has proven to be more reliable than ill-fated Protons.
A group of 29 GLONASS satellites is currently in orbit, with 24 spacecraft in operation, three spares, one in maintenance, and one in test flight phase, according to Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos.