Russia has successfully launched a rocket, carrying the last three satellites to complete a navigation system to rival America's GPS, from Baikonur cosmodrome on the steppes of neighbouring Kazakhstan, where Russia rents the facility. The military-run Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) 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 began in the Soviet Union in the mid-1970s to give its armed forces exact bearings around the world. Officials said the mapping system 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.
News source: Reuters