The launch of three Glonass navigation satellites today would have completed the global constellation of 24 satellites, but unfortunately the rocket launch went off course and all three satellites were lost in the Pacific Ocean. The latest infusion of into Russia’s positioning constellation of satellites as an alternative to the U.S.-built Global Positioning Sytstem was meant to be fully operational by January 2011.
The failure of the launch is being attributed to a rocket booster that gave a stronger propulsive force than anticipated. The previous 10 launches of the Proton-M rocket, including two prior launches of Glonass navigation satellites, all were successful.
Despite the fact that this latest launch failed, the Glonass system does have strong coverage with 26 operating satellites, particularly over Russia. These latest satellites would have completed the constellation and added better coverage over equatorial regions.