On February 26, 2011 at 03:07 UTC the "Soyuz-2.1b” rocket-carrier was launched from Russian Plesetsk Cosmodrome. The rocket orbited the "Glonass-K” navigation satellite.
photo by Roscosmos
The Glonass satellite network is Russia's answer to the U.S. Global Positioning System, or GPS, and is designed for both military and civilian uses. Both systems allow users to determine their positions to within a few meters.
The Glonass-K, which has a service life of 10 years, will beam five navigation signals - four in the special L1 and L2 bands and one for civilian applications in the L3 band. The complete grouping must have 24 operational and 2-3 reserve satellites for the Glonass network to operate with global coverage. Russia currently has 22 Glonass satellites in orbit and will launch another three Glonass-M satellites on board a Proton heavy carrier rocket later this year to complete the Glonass grouping.