China launches competitor to GPS

China launches competitor to GPS

The Beidou system is aimed at allowing travellers, drivers and military officials to accurately know their locations.

A Long March-3A carrier rocket bearing the satellite to be used for the purpose took off Sunday from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in Sichuan province, China Daily reported, citing the Beidou navigation system's official website,

Five other Beidou navigation satellites were launched last year. All six now constitute the basic form of the navigation network, which China plans to expand to comprise 35 satellites, a statement said.

It, however, did not say when the services will start.
The earlier experimental network launched between 2000 and 2003 was known for its role in disaster relief work, said Pang Zhihao, deputy editor-in-chief of the monthly magazine Space International.

"Satellites in inclined orbits can observe things from a different angle and are able to see things shielded by trees or high-rises that satellites in geostationary orbits may not see," he said.

"The increase in the number of navigation satellites and the two various orbits have together made the under-construction Beidou navigation system able to provide more accurate navigation and positioning services."

Now that the basic shape of the Beidou network has been formed, future launches will make the network "stronger" and be able to provide "round-the-clock" service throughout the Asia-Pacific region, said Wu Dong, director of the navigation project office at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.

China aims to complete the system by 2020.
The system will provide service with high precision and credibility for industries and sectors including mapping, fishery, transportation, meteorology and telecommunications.

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