Three Russian Glonass navigation satellites were successfully placed into medium Earth orbit Dec. 14, 2009, by a Proton rocket operating from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Russia’s Roskosmos space agency said the new spacecraft will join a Glonass constellation that as of Dec. 16 included 16 fully operational satellites, two satellites that were undergoing in-orbit maintenance and one that was in the process of being decommissioned.

Roskosmos Director Anatoly Perminov told Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Dec. 15 that Russia has satellite-navigation agreements with India and Kazakhstan, according to a Roskosmos summary of the meeting. Additional agreements are in place or imminent with Brazil, Nicaragua and Belarus, Perminov said. He repeated earlier Roskosmos assertions that three Proton vehicles, each carrying three Glonass satellites, were scheduled for launch in 2010, after which Glonass would be able to provide global coverage with 24 operational satellites.