MOSCOW, November 13 (RIA Novosti) -- Russia will lift all precision restrictions from 2007 in the use of military-controlled Glonass to enable accurate and unlimited commercial use of the global positioning system, the defense minister said Monday.
Glonass, a Russian version of the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS), is designed for both military and civilian purposes, and allows users around the globe to identify their positions in real time. It can also be used in geological prospecting.
Sergei Ivanov said: "By January 1, 2007, the General Staff will lift all restrictions on the precision of coordinates, so that the system can be used to develop the economy and transportation system."
Current restrictions limit the accuracy for civilian users of Glonass to 30 meters.
Ivanov told a meeting between the Cabinet and the president that Glonass would cover all of Russia by the end of 2007, which would require 18 satellites.
"The whole project is ready and has received support from the economics ministry," said Ivanov, who is also a deputy prime minister.
Global application of the system by the end of 2009 will require 24 satellites, he said. "Today, 14 spacecraft are in orbit," Ivanov said, adding that another three satellites would be launched December 25.
Ivanov also said a senior designer had been appointed for the system, "Yury Urlichich, who will be responsible for both the orbiting satellites and ground-based equipment."
The defense minister also said his ministry and the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade would be in charge of the Glonass services market.
The Russian Space Agency approved the Russian military's decision to put Glonass into commercial use.
"We think that canceling restrictions for all Russian citizens using Glonass signals opens unlimited opportunities, and will encourage the development of the new and promising market of satellite navigation," spokesman Igor Panarin said.
He said that Glonass services would be a luxury for most people in Russia to begin with. "But with time, every housewife will be able to place a portable satellite navigator on her dog's collar so that she can know where her pet is at any given moment," Panarin said.