Russia’s Global Disaster Monitoring System Would Cost $22 Billion

The San Francisco Mission District burning in the aftermath of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.

I’ve found a bit more information about Russia’s IGMASS system, which is an international network designed to help with disaster predicting, monitoring and response.The first bit of news is the eye-popping $22 billion cost of building the full global network. That’s expensive, but relatively cheap compared to the cost of disaster relief and recovery.

The Voice of Russia describes the plan:

The project suggests that satellites, special airplanes, ground sensors and navigators will be transmitting all data concerning ongoing or expected natural disasters such as earthquakes, forest fires, tsunami, or even asteroid fall to regional and international crisis centers. The proposed global aerospace monitoring system suggests the use of Russian GLONASS and American GPS navigation, as well as ground quake and tsunami alarm systems that include more than 20,000 devices.

The Earth monitoring will be conducted with the help of already operating satellites equipped with cameras, radars and spectrometers. But it is planned to design special devices to be used in early prediction of various physical and meteorological changes. By the end of the year Russia and Belarus hope to come up with a minor satellite of the Soyuz-Sat-O class.

Russia is going to receive an international patent for its global aerospace monitoring system. In Russia it belongs to the Moscow-based Khrunichev Space Center.

The says says that 11 nations have shown interest in the project, including the following:

  • China
  • United Kingdom
  • Belarus
  • Ukraine
  • Indonesia
  • Argentina
  • Australia

High-level talks were held with China in January that included the signing of a protocol. A regional headquarters has been set up on the Indonesian island of Bali. Ukraine has offered access to facilities in the Crimean. Russian and British researchers are working together on a program to launch satellites to monitor for signs of impending earthquakes. A similar project is being pursued with Belarus. Argentina has agreed to join the project while a decision from Australia is expected soon, the article says.

The system could be in place by 2017 if funding can be found.

Russia pitched IGMASS during a heads of space agencies gathering in Washington last year. Russian officials said it was well received. However, all the major space agencies — aside from China’s — are cash strapped at the moment. The U.S. does have significant assets already in place – including GPS, Earth monitoring satellites, and ground-monitoring capabilities — that could be added to the system. And IGMASS could be initially focused on high-risk areas and gradually expanded over time as money and new technologies became available.