* Launch to bring Glonass global satnav system fully online
* First test of Soyuz rocket since August spacecraft crash
* Next space station crew to launch on similar rocket in
By Alissa de Carbonnel
MOSCOW, Oct 3 Russia successfully launched a
navigation satellite on Monday that will complete a global
system to rival the U.S. GPS (Global Positioning System) and
give a much-needed boost to the beleaguered Russian space
The early morning launch from Russia's northern Plesetsk
Cosmodrome was the first Soyuz rocket launch since a Russian
unmanned cargo flight to the International Space Station (ISS)
fell back to Earth in burning pieces in a failed August launch.
Russia is struggling to return confidence in its commercial
launch capacity as a partner in the orbital space station after
a series of botched launches.
When the navigation satellite becomes active in about a
month, Russia's Glonass global navigation system will be "fully
complete," the Russian space agency quoted its deputy head
Anatoly Shilov as saying on its website.
The launch completes a constellation of 24 satellites needed
to fully bring online Russia's answer to the U.S.-built GPS.
Moscow has spent $2 billion over the last decade in
developing the Glonass system from Cold War technology used to
guide Soviet missiles.
It hopes the system, which has both civilian and military
uses, will deliver what Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has called
"satellite navigation sovereignty" and help spur the development
of domestic consumer devices.
The series of costly failed launches has fuelled worries
among international partners over reliance on Russia as the only
means to ferry astronauts to and from the space station since
NASA retired its space shuttle earlier this year.
Russia blamed the failure of the Russian Progress rocket
launch in August on a blockage in a kerosene fuel line and has
set a new Progress launch for October 30.
That launch will be closely watched as the last test run of
the Soyuz rocket before a new astronaut trio blasts off for the
space station on November 14 from the Russian-leased launch pad
in the southern Kazakh city of Baikonur.
(Writing by Alissa de Carbonnel; editing by Shaimaa Fayed)