WASHINGTON — The secretive National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is rushing to get the latest, high-definition satellite photos of Afghanistan into the hands of U.S. ground troops as they ramp up operations in the country’s tangled terrain.
Russia successfully launched a rocket on December 25 carrying the last three satellites to complete a navigation system to rival America’s GPS.
The military-run GLONASS mapping system works over most of Russia and is expected to cover the globe by the end of 2009, once all its 24 navigational satellites are operating.
Work on GLONASS — or Global Navigation Satellite System — began in the Soviet Union in the mid-1970s to give its armed forces exact bearings around the world.
The collapse of the Russian economy in the late 1990s drained funds and the plans withered, but President Vladimir Putin has ensured the project is now being lavishly funded from a brimming government budget.
Officials said GLONASS would mainly be used alongside the U.S. global positioning system, which Washington can switch off for civilian subscribers, as it did during recent military operations in Iraq.
First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said Tuesday’s launch would bring the GLONASS satellite fleet to 18 – the number necessary to provide navigation services over the entire Russian territory. He said the system would be available worldwide by 2010, for which it would need 24 satellites.
Europeans are also developing their own satellite navigation system, Galileo.
Source: Yahoo, Canada