Yesterday a Russian rocket crashed near Hawaii with three satellites on board shortly after launch. The satellites were destined to be part of the GLONASS satellite navigation, which operates similarly to the American NAVSTAR GPS or the European Galileo.
Follow this link to a Yahoo News article quoting from an AFP article where Russian Prime Minister Putin stresses the importance of GLONASS to offset US influence. He wants all Russian cars to be equipped with GLONASS. In another article he said that he wanted cell phones sold in Russia to use GLONASS instead of NAVSTAR. He would also heavily tax units that use the American navigation system. See the Reuters article.
I was under the impression that the Russians wanted to sell their system to the world, which makes sense. I was surprised, but not that much, they would institute such a restrictive policy at home.
In this Russian article, the launch failure is attributed to a programming error, which reminds me of the mathematical units error that caused the loss of a NASA Mars explorer vessel. You have to check the programming!The article also has pictures of the launch.
The launch failure shouldn’t hurt the systems, which is already operational over all of Russia with 26 satellites in service.