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K2 will drive GLONASS under 1M

New GLONASS-K2 satellites will improve the accuracy of Russia’s satellite navigation system from 3-5 meters to less than 1 meter, said Chief Designer Mikhail Korablyov of the Joint Stock Company GLONASS, operator of the ERA-GLONASS traffic accident emergency response system, at a transport conference in Moscow in late May.

Russia plans to launch the first K2 satellite in late 2019 or early 2020. By 2030 the GLONASS constellation will consist wholly of K2 space vehicles, 24 of them.

The improved accuracy will better determine vehicle location in analyzing a traffic accident, according to Korablyov. It will not, however, be sufficient for lane-keeping and other advanced driver assistance systems, nor for more stringent autonomous driving requirements, at least according to emerging Western standards.

“There are also tasks linked with the country’s defense, there are special precision weapons, the requirements for which already make up less than a meter,” Korablyov added.

Yury Urlichich, First Deputy Director General, Roscosmos. (Photo: Roscosmos)

Yury Urlichich, First Deputy Director General, Roscosmos. (Photo: Roscosmos)

Numbers. Writing in the December 2018 issue of GPS World, Yury Urlichich, First Deputy Director General, Roscosmos State Space Corporation, gave a somewhat more precise figure for the new accuracy to be achieved via the K2 generation. “The new signals will allow lowering the hardware-dependent SC-user ranging error by an order of magnitude, reducing the influence of signal reflections from buildings, constructions and landscape (multipath effect), thus enabling their effective use for high-precision navigation with real-time errors below 0.1 m.

“This SC will enable navigation not only using legacy FDMA signals available for users for more than 35 years, but simultaneously with a full row of CDMA signals in all GLONASS frequency bands: L1, L2 and L3.”

Later in the same piece, Urlichich wrote “Mission Definition Requirements for Glonass-K2 define user range error to be 0.3 m, qualitatively improving GLONASS user performance.”

The new K2 satellite will transmit nine navigation signals and will weigh about 1,800 kg, twice as much the latest GLONASS-K generation, known as K1. Of the 24 currently orbiting operational satellites, only two are K1 space vehicles. The other 22 are older GLONASS-M satellites.

A Shock to the System. A bolt of lightning struck the rocket launcher for the latest GLONASS-M satellite to rise, on May 27. It did not adversely affect the bird’s journey to space, and all systems were found to be functioning properly once the satellite was released into preliminary orbit, Russian space officials said.

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