At 2152 on 30 November a Soyuz 2-1b/Fregat M launch vehicle took off from its launch pad in Plesetsk, Northern Russia. Aboard was a navigation satellite, the second to be launched in the Glonass-K series. Built by ISS Reshetnev, the Glonass spacecraft will operate from Medium Earth Orbit (MEO), much the same way that the US GPS system does. Officially the system is military and thus has a military designation, Cosmos 2501. However, like GPS, it has extensive civilian applications.
The Glonass-K bus design differs from the earlier Glonass-M versions by having a lifespan increased from 7 to 10 years, having a reduced weight (935 kg instead of 1415 kg), and the introduction of a new navigation signal in the L3-range . In addition, the new satellite equipment available is the international search and rescue system COSPAS-SARSAT.