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    Russia tests carrier rocket for Glonass satellite launch

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    Russia's Space Forces have started ground tests of a Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket, which will orbit a Glonass satellite at the end of August, spokesman Lt. Col. Vitaly Vyatkin said on Thursday.

    Russia's Space Forces have started ground tests of a Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket, which will orbit a Glonass satellite at the end of August, spokesman Lt. Col. Vitaly Vyatkin said on Thursday.

    "The rocket has not been assembled yet but its systems and ground equipment are connected together by electric wires for preliminary testing," Vyatkin said. "If the tests go well the stages of the rocket are then put together."

    The so-called "dry run" is conducted at the Plesetsk space center. The second testing will be carried out at the launch pad, 24 hours prior to the launch.

    The launches of Glonass satellites have been assigned to Soyuz rockets after a Proton-M carrier rocket with three Glonass-M satellites veered off course and sunk in the Pacific Ocean on December 5 last year.

    The failure was attributed to a series of manufacturing mistakes.

    The satellites were supposed to finalize the creation of Russia's Glonass Global Navigation Satellite System.

    Glonass 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.

    Russia currently has a total of 26 Glonass satellites in orbit, although only 20 of them are functional.

    The complete Glonass grouping must have 24 operational and 2-3 reserve satellites for the Glonass network to operate with global coverage.

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