GPS World reports:

Russia gave the GNSS industry three gifts this Christmas, particularly in its home country.

On Tuesday the Russian Federal Space Agency successfully launched a Proton-M carrier rocket with three Glonass satellites on board from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported.

The launch will bring the Glonass satellite constellation total to 18 satellites, enough to provide navigation services to all of Russia, assuming all three can be put into service. By 2010, Russia plans to have a fully operating constellation of 24 Glonass satellites—enough to provide positioning service over the entire globe, complementing the U.S. GPS constellation.

Six Glonass satellites are scheduled for launch in 2008, and the first two improved Glonass-K satellites are scheduled for launch the following year, according to RIA Novosti reports.

In related news, a number of news agencies quoted Vladimir Putin on Monday as asking about the availability of Glonass-enabled tracking hardware for his dog, a black lab. The question reportedly came after Putin was briefed about the launch scheduled for the next day and the status of the Glonass system.

Los Angeles Air Force Base repoors:

The Air Force completed a four-phase transition of the Global Positioning System ground segment to the new Architecture Evolution Plan on Sept. 14. AEP was delivered by the Space and Missile Systems Center’s GPS Wing to the 50th Space Wing to replace the legacy 1970s-era mainframe computer at Schriever AFB, Colo.

SMC managed the development, integration and test with the Boeing Company, who led a joint Boeing-Lockheed Martin contractor team, to design and build the new system. The transition was executed by the 2nd Space Operations Squadron from the 50th Space Wing and the 19th Space Operations Squadron from the 310th Space Group.

The ground segment provides command and control of the satellites and generates the navigation message for satellites to broadcast to users so they can determine their position on the earth. The new control segment is a critical part of an overall modernization plan to improve operations, sustainment, and overall GPS service.

PETER B. de SELDING, Space News Staff Writer, reports:

‘If we have not published it in our catalogue, then it does not exist.’

BROYE-LES-PESMES, France - A French space-surveillance radar has detected 20-30 satellites in low Earth orbit that do not figure in the U.S. Defense Department’s published catalogue, a discovery that French officials say they will use to pressure U.S. authorities to stop publishing the whereabouts of French reconnaissance and military communications satellites.

GPS World reports:

The current GPS constellation — its health and viability — continues in question and under scrutiny, despite reassurances from the Air Force.

Last month’s GPS World Survey & Construction e-newsletter relayed user plaints that there aren’t enough healthy GPS satellites. Surveyors say they can’t use RTK a full day with the current constellation even with every satellite healthy — and that recently there have been more satellite outages than ever before. They’ve resorted to filling GPS gaps with GLONASS.

The online story drew immediate affirmation. “While most of the time we get good coverage, for the last couple months we have had a 4 to 6-hour gap where we ‘float’ a lot and our precision goes down. Unfortunately this gap is usually between 10 am and 2 pm, which creates some interesting scheduling problems.”

A video grab released by the European Space Agency (ESA) shows a Soyuz rocket carrying a Galileo satellite launching from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan December 28, 2005. (REUTERS/ESA/Handout)

Richard Balmforth, Reuters, reports:

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The European Union launched its first Galileo navigation satellite on Wednesday, moving to challenge the United States’ Global Positioning System (GPS).

Russian space agency Roskosmos said the 600 kg (1,300 lb) satellite named Giove-A (Galileo In-Orbit Validation Element) went into its orbit 23,000 km (15,000 miles) from the earth after its launch on a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur cosmodrome in the middle of Kazakhstan’s steppe.

Duane DeFreitas and the Rupununi Express
Duane DeFreitas and the Rupununi Express

Paul Rubens, BBC NEWS, reports:

Taking a break from setting up a small network, I head outside to see if the nearest building is likely to be able to pick up a wireless network signal. “Make sure you turn right at the bottom of the stairs,” says my host, “or the jaguar will eat you.”

Welcome to the surreal world of Duane DeFreitas, an adventurer and guide living in the tropical rainforest of Guyana.

Intelsat reports, via Slashdot:

Intelsat, Ltd. announced today that its IS-804 satellite experienced a sudden and unexpected electrical power system anomaly on January 14, 2005, at approximately 5:32 p.m. EST that caused the total loss of the spacecraft. In accordance with existing satellite anomaly contingency plans, Intelsat is in the process of making alternative capacity available to its IS-804 customers. The satellite, launched in 1997, furnished telecommunications and media delivery services to customers in the South Pacific. Intelsat and Lockheed Martin Corporation, the manufacturer of the satellite, are working together to identify the cause of the problem. Intelsat currently believes that there is no connection between this event and the recent IA-7 satellite anomaly as the two satellites were manufactured by two different companies and their designs are different.

Geekzone reports:

Intelsat, Ltd. said that its Intelsat Americas-7 satellite experienced a sudden and unexpected electrical distribution anomaly that caused the permanent loss of the spacecraft on 28 November 2004 at approximately 2:30 am EST. Intelsat has made alternative capacity available to most of its IA-7 customers, many of whom have already had their services restored. The company is working with Space/Systems Loral, the manufacturer of the satellite, to identify the cause of the problem.

Slashdot Reports:

An anonymous reader writes “Sometime this morning (Sept. 19) Telstar 4 had a major onboard failure. I just checked a few minutes ago and there are CW carriers up on 11700 MHz V & 12200 MHz H, so the spacecraft would appear to still be in its orbital slot - just no traffic. The Loral Skynet site has no mention of this yet, but supposedly Telstar 8 was already scheduled to replace T4, so they may just speed the process up. This turn of events will no doubt be of some small concern to Intelsat, who recently agreed to purchase most of Loral’s US domestic fleet, including T4.”