GPS Versus GLONASS
The Race for Space Between USA and Russia
Navigation has come a long way and now it’s on its most successful stage. It was initially used for providing services for the military before civilians had access to it. Nowadays, they use satellite navigations which provides positioning and coverage through the use of satellites. These satellites are launched and have the capability of sending signals to electric receivers that later interpret the information. Russia and USA are the two leading giants in these sector. These satellites are used in multiple types of navigation systems such as GPS and GLONASS.
United States GPS Systems
Global Positioning System abbreviated as GPS is the USA’s satellite navigation system that is very accurate in delivering up to date information. It is the oldest navigation system which has been in use since 1973. It was initially used for the US Department of Defense until 2000 when it was made available to the public.
Russia’s GLONASS System
Global Navigation Satellite is a similar satellite navigation system that is developed by the government of Russia. It is a space based satellite that is controlled and managed by the Russian Aerospace Defense Forces. It was developed two years after the USA GPS and it underwent massive construction and development in 2000. It became one of Russia’s most expensive program in 2010.
The two satellite systems are in a stiff competition with each government trying to stay strong. The Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin hopes that GLONASS will work better than the USA’s GPS. He hisses that the navigation system will sustain the stiff competition that is projected into the sector by the US government. The Russian Government is focused on making GLONASS an alternative to GPS and beat Europe and China.
Putin has greatly invested in the sector to accelerate the development of this satellite navigation system. This will help to create a single navigation system that will be swiftly responding to emergencies. In the move to ensure GLONASS is more popular in the years to come, it will be provided to customers at no cost and without any restrictions. This is a bid to ensure that these services are readily available to anyone who might need them now and in the future.
The Russian Government is focused on launching as many satellites as possible. Putin announced at a conference in Ryazan that before the end of the year of 2010, they will have launched six more satellites. GLONASS just like the GPS has a 24 satellite architecture.
In 2010, Russia launched three new navigation Satellites. The Russian Proton-M was launched into space with three new GLONASS satellites. The main aim was to increase the functionality and the dependability of the Russian Navigation system on a bid to beat the US and the EU systems. In the same year, the Government announced the launch of ALLOY, a revolutionary location and Synchronization solution for both indoors and urban environment.
A Russian Government also announced that it will disconnect 11 GPS receivers that are positioned in Russia. The treat is as a result of the tit-for-tat rhetorical and democratic firefights between the two countries. The Russian Government ordered that if the US government doesn’t allow the construction of similar GLONASS stations in the US then they will also deal with the American 11 land based GPS receivers in the Russian soil. In another statement, the Russia’s Federal Space Agency Roskosmos said that it will lockout the use of information from network stations that are operating on the signals of the GPS system and are located in the Russian Federation.
Some experts argue that the threat even if implemented will not have a significant impact on the GPS satellites. They say that the passive stations in Russia primarily used to ensure correct tracking of GPS tracking. In addition, these stations are just 11 and therefore their effect on the GPS accuracy will be insignificant.
There are few Americans who are aware of the existing developments in the GPS and GLONASS navigation systems that is set to increase the competition in the recent years. The USA government was in response to the launch of satellites for GLONASS by the Russian Government. When GLONASS system become fully operational in 2011, the Obama administration considered it as a new national security threat. In 2014, National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) burned Moscow from constructing and using GLONASS in the USA soil unless they proved that it was not used for military purposes. The USA government considered it as an easy way to send a destructive missile in case of war just as simple as it sent the signals to the vehicles. This burn led to low quality signals for GLONASS customers and tensions between healthy competitions of the two Navigation systems. Scientists therefore came up with suggestion of a joint GPS-GLONASS navigation input that could otherwise be effective.
The GLONASS development has been entirely a National Government responsibility on which it has fully funded since scientists started working on it in 1970s. The fall of the Soviet Union put this project on hold until Putin resurrected it in 2003. He had his eyes on the US GPS navigation system which raised concerns over Spying.
After the project become absolute in 2010, the government set it as a requirement for all the school busses to have a GLONASS system to protect the lives of the students and the driver. Several counties levy a fine to both public and private vehicles that have no tracking system for their safety.
The USA government is also on the move to implement a law in which private vehicles, containers, trailers will be tracked by the government for tax purposes. The government GPS tracking will just keep record of the mileage and the use time. However, many people consider this process unhealthy. It may expose the driver’s habits to the government.
Although the two giants GPS and GLONASS are in a stiff competition, GPS from USA is considered provide more accurate data. There are several tests that have been conducted by several international organizations about the accuracy rate. The tests looked at how accurate the information and the data relayed by the two antagonists is. GLONASS is believed to be accurate at 10 feet as to compare with GPS which was ahead at 6 feet.
GLONASS through the Russian Government is still undergoing massive improvements including launching more satellites into space. Therefore, its accuracy rate might improve significantly. The reason why GLONASS is facing accuracy challenges is that most of its stations are in Brazil and Antarctica. The GPS stations are all over the world and hence this may be what makes the difference between the two satellite navigation systems.
They are building as many locations in the world as possible in order to put their services at the same page with those provided by GPS. The Russian Government is planning of adding 50 more stations in more than 35 more countries of the world. The New stations will be built around the southern hemisphere from Brazil to Indonesia. Russia wants to ensure that GLONASS accuracy is 0.6 meters or better. If GLONASS pass out with these stations, then they might surpass GPS and become a very effective alternative.
Unlike GPS, GLONASS satellites are accurate for high latitudes. GPS cannot currently reach where GLONASS can reach and hence this is the only point where GLONASS seems to be ahead of GPS. This makes GLONASS a good alternative for signals in some parts of the world. The Government of Russia wants to make GLONASS highly accurate even to the most sophisticated parts of the world.
When used alone, GLONASS has no strong coverage as GPS. When they are used together, then the level of coverage increases. A joint combination of GLONASS and GPS allows your phone to be pin pointed by a group of 55 satellites across the globe and hence relay of more accurate data.
GPS is commercially fit and is a very effective and affordable alternative to GLONASS. However, the Government of Russia is trying hard to promote GLONASS use commercially in order to get into a healthy competition with GPS.
With GLONASS being offered to the public, very many smartphones are launching GPS+GLONASS technology to use dual core location based service for smartphone users. Apple 4s was the first smartphone that used both GPS and GLONASS for pin pointing location on maps.
GPS receivers have the advantage of years of Research and Development. Even if the numbers of GPS satellites and the location stations are in its favor, we won’t be suprised if GLONASS catches up. You should not see GLONASS as an alternative to GPS or think that GLONASS will replace GPS in the provision of tracking services other services. The two Navigation systems tend to supplement each other in the process of building a multi-GNSS receivers where the receivers will support more than one positioning systems. Most of the devices that are launched recently and they support GPS, they are also capable of supporting GLONASS or they already support it.
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