Russia has announced the successful launch of three additional GLONASS
navigation satellites on Christmas Day, bringing the total number of functional units to 18, and reportedly scaring the beejezus out of Santa and his reindeer during liftoff. The GPS competitor -- first begun in the Soviet era and only recently revived after years of post-collapse neglect -- is now theoretically capable of providing coverage to the entire Russian territory, with First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov claiming that the first compatible consumer devices will be available in the middle of next year. By 2010 Russia plans to open the system up to outside nations as well, contributing to an eventual three-
or even four-system
global market, and ensuring that President and Man of the Year Vladimir Putin will finally achieve his stated goal of being able to pinpoint his treasured black lab Koni anywhere in the world.