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Satellite System GLONASS celebrates its 20th anniversary

On January 18, 1996, a satellite that became the 24th in the orbit group was included into the Russian Navigational Satellite System later called GLONASS. The GLONASS system was launched to full orbital composition, which provided the system with a new quality – global use.
Officially the work on creation of GLONASS was initiated in December 1976 by the decree of the CPSU Central Committee and the Council of Ministers of the USSR. The project became the next stage of the development of the Soviet space program in the field of navigation, initiated in 1960s. The system had to include 24 satellites (18 satellites were enough to cover only the territory of the USSR), located in three flat surfaces with 8 evenly spaced satellites in each, to ensure global coverage.
The Ministry of defense of the USSR (like the U.S. Department of defense was a customer of the American GPS (Navstar) system) was supposed to become the main user of the system. The first satellite launch under the project took place in 1982.
Since May 2007 under the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation, the access to the signals of the GLONASS system is available to all users at any point of the globe at no cost and without restrictions. Today the maintenance and the development of the GLONASS system are carried out in the framework of a federal special-purpose program for the period of 2012-2020. 
Currently the GLONASS system is one of two functioning systems of satellite navigation and the use of GLONASS is a technological standard of professional and production equipment. Moreover, since 2011 GLONASS is the only system that offers commercial customers a global service of navigational support using signals in two bandwidths L1 and L2.
As on January 18, 2016, the GLONASS orbit group comprises 27 space vehicles. The next space launching of GLONASS-M is planned for February.
In order to ensure mass adoption and commercialization of GLONASS technologies in Russia and abroad, the government designates a federal network operator in the sphere of satellite navigation. In 2012 GLONASS Union was designated as a federal network operator in the sphere of satellite navigation.