A Soyuz-2.1B rocket carrying a Glonass-M navigation satellite is scheduled to lift off from Plesetsk space center on October 1, 2011. The launch has been postponed, following the failure of a Soyuz rocket carrying a Progress cargo spacecraft on August 24. After an investigation, which pointed to a faulty gas generator as the cause of the failure, the Russian space agency Roscosmos announced resumption of Soyuz flights. The launch of October 1 will pave the way to the next ISS increment, announced for November 14. The ISS is currently undercrewed, following the reentry Soyuz TMA-21 of September 16. Should crew launches be delayed further, the ISS would risk remaining without a crew on board for the first time in 10 years.
The Glonass satellite navigation system is Russia’s equivalent to US GPS. The current fleet of 27, with only 23 operational, still lacks one operational satellite and a couple more spares in order to insure global coverage. Russia had lost three Glonass satellites in December, 2010, for a failure of a Proton-M rocket.