MOSCOW – Russia's satellite navigation system is still taking shape, but President Vladimir Putin already has a plan for how to use it: to keep tabs on his black labrador.
Putin on Monday listened to First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov as he briefed the cabinet on the development of GLONASS, the acronym for Global Navigation Satellite System. The Russian leader then asked: "When will I be able to buy the necessary equipment for my dog Koni so that she doesn't run too far?"
Ivanov responded that collars for dogs and cats with satellite-guided positioning equipment will be available for private consumers in the middle of next year.
GLONASS was developed during the Soviet era as a response to the U.S. Global Positioning System, or GPS. The system originally had 24 satellites, but their number dwindled after the 1991 Soviet collapse.
Thanks to Russia's booming oil revenues, the government has earmarked funds to revive the system to its full strength and offer it to global consumers.
Ivanov said a Russian booster rocket was set to put another three GLONASS satellites into orbit on Tuesday, bringing their total number to 18 — the number necessary to provide navigation services over the entire Russian territory.
Ivanov said that the system would be available worldwide by 2010.