Russians to Compete With U.S. GPS

Russia is making a serious bid to compete with the U.S. Global Positioning System, the New York Times reports.

“By the end of the year, the authorities here say, the Russian space agency plans to launch eight navigation satellites that would nearly complete the country’s own system, called Glonass,” according to the Times.

Russia says it is pursuing its own satellite navigation system as a matter of national security. (Foreign governments fear the U.S. GPS system, operated by the U.S. military, could be turned off during a crisis.) “‘In a few years, business without a navigation signal will become inconceivable,’” said Andrei G. Ionin, an aerospace analyst with the Center for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, which is linked to the Russian defense ministry,” the Times reported. “‘Everything that moves will use a navigation signal â€" airplanes, trains, yachts, people, rockets, valuable animals and favorite pets.’”

Russians are not the first to compete with the U.S. GPS system. The European Union has been working on its Galileo system. China has sent up satellites to build its Baidu GPS system, named after the Chinese word for the Big Dipper, but “Russia’s system is furthest along, paid for with government oil revenue,” according to the article.