Published in News
Kremlin orders GPS improvements
Or be sacked
Russian space agency officials will be fired unless they get on with developing a Russian satellite navigation system to rival the U.S.-controlled global positioning system (GPS).
First Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Ivanov said that the GPS system was far more important than space exploration, and threatened that if the space agency does not get on with it heads will roll. GLONASS, short for Global Navigation Satellite System, began as a military project in the 1970s but stalled after the fall of Soviet Communism. However, in December the last components to provide domestic coverage for GLONASS were launched and the remainder of its 24 navigational satellites should be in orbit by the end of 2009.
However, Ivanov said that the necessary infrastructure for mass-commercial use of GLONASS has still not been created. He said that the space agency should delay high profile plans to put a Russian on the moon, or Mars, until it had got the systems sorted out.