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World GPS Systems Cooperation

by diane 2010-05-26 12:50

It seems like GPS is the only one at a multiple-constellation GNSS world since other systems, such as European Galileo, Chinese Beidou/Compass and Japanese Quasi-Zenith Satellite, possess only a few satellites each and they will not be fully operational until a few years from now. However, we don’t want to overlook Russia’s GLONASS.
As world GPS started to develop, the former Soviet Ministry of Defense carried out Russia’s GLONASS back in 1970 which launched its first satellite in 1982. But because of launch failures and the characteristically brief lives of the satellites, a further 70 satellites were launched before a fully populated constellation of 24 functioning satellites was achieved in early 1996. Unfortunately, the full constellation was short-lived. Russia’s economic difficulties following the dismantling of the Soviet Union hurt GLONASS. Funds were not available, and by 2002 the constellation had dropped to as few as seven satellites, with only six available during maintenance operations! But Russia’s fortunes turned around, and with support from the Russian hierarchy, GLONASS was reborn. Longer-lived satellites were launched, as many as six per year, and slowly but surely the constellation has grown to 21, with two in-orbit spares.
But are there any users outside Russia? Although dual-system GPS/GLONASS receivers have been around for at least a decade, manufacturers have taken notice of GLONASS’s recent rebirth. All of the high-end manufacturers now offer receivers with GLONASS capability. Does combining GPS and GLONASS observations make a difference? Scientific applications requiring high-accuracy satellite orbit and clock data also benefit. The International GNSS Service (IGS) has been providing such data for several years, and representatives from two IGS analysis centers discuss the past, present, and future of IGS GNSS monitoring and product development.

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