For the first time, a GLONASS-K nextgeneration satellite has begun providing onorbit services for Russia’s GNSS system.
Launched December 1, 2014, the spacecraft began regular broadcasts on February 15, transmitting on channel –6 from its orbital location in plane 2, slot 9 of the GLONASS constellation.This GLONASS-K satellite was built around an unpressurized platform, has a mass of 974 kilograms, an electric power supply system’s capacity of 1600 watts, and a design for a 10-year lifespan. It transmits five navigation signals in the GLONASS L1, L2, and L3 bands. The satellite also carries a COSPAS-SARSAT payload supporting the international satellite-based search and rescue system. Over the longer term, GLONASS-K satellites are expected to considerably improve the characteristics and capabilities of the GLONASS system, including the transmission of CDMA civil signals. The new-generation satellites will gradually replace the GLONASS-M series that currently form the backbone of the system’s orbital constellation.
The International Civil Aviation Organization continues to be concerned about Russia’s plan to require that its GLONASS satellite navigation equipment be installed on certain aircraft starting in 2017. Russian- and non-Russian-built aircraft, including those registered abroad and put onto an operator’s certificate issued by the Russian Federation, weighing more than 12,500 pounds (5,700 kg) mtow and used for commercial transportation will be required to install GLONASS by Jan. 1, 2017. That deadline is Jan. 1, 2018, for general aviation aircraft.
According to a 2012 ICAO Working Paper, still the current ICAO thinking, the mandate is imposing new requirements on non-Russian-certified operators, including operators certified by the U.S., although the Russian Federation says it does not have the intention of prohibiting the use of other constellations in Russian airspace. Because there are currently no international standards for such equipment, it will be “extremely difficult” for airframe manufacturers to develop certified receivers and install them on foreign-manufactured aircraft by 2017, ICAO said. www.ainonline.com
Air Force ground controllers have activated service aboard the newest GPS satellite, achieving that milestone for the final spacecraft in a dozen built in a manufacturing batch to update the constellation. The GPS 2F-12 craft was launched into the navigation network from Cape Canaveral atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket on Feb. 5. It underwent testing and checkout before being “set healthy” by operators at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. The satellite was the final one to be launched in a series known as the Block 2F, built by Boeing, with additional signals, improved accuracy, better anti-jamming and longer design lives. The next launch for the program will be the first GPS 3 satellite in 2017. https://spaceflightnow.com
The European Space Agency (ESA) has launched a new initiative to support space-based enhancements to Europe’s railway network.
Space4Rail will highlight ESA funding programs that could support the use of GNSS in rail applications while raising awareness of the added value that space systems can deliver. GNSS is already being employed within the rail network to monitor trains and check the integrity of rail infrastructure, and ESA, as a research and development agency, has various programs dedicated to supporting such activities. Space4Rail has been set up as a one-stop shop for the rail industry to learn about the agency and facilitate the submission of proposals for partnerships. ESA offers financial and technical support to projects – including access to its specialists and agency laboratories – while acting as a broker between the space industry, the railway industry, and service providers.