The New York Times reports that the Russian Space Agency is set to launch eight navigation satellites before the end of the year, which would nearly complete the company's ambitious Glonass system, leading to a global launch sometime in 2009. That's when the country hopes it'll begin to pry folks loose from their dependence on GPS-based devices, with Russian President Vladimir Putin himself reportedly pressing scientists to make their system better and cheaper than GPS. As The New York Times points out, Russia isn't the only one looking to take on the current GPS monopoly on satellite navigation, with both China and the European Union also working on their own competing systems, although neither are apparently as far along as Russia's.

[Photo courtesy of The New York Times]

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Russia's GPS-challenging Glonass system nearing completion