China successfully launched 2 more satellites for its proposed Beidou Global Navigation and Positioning Network being built to counter the US Global Position System (GPS).
With these two satellites, China has so far launched 13 satellites to form part of the Beidou system.
The Beidou-2 satellites, launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the southwestern province of Sichuan, was boosted by a Long March-3B carrier rocket and has entered the scheduled orbit. It is the first time that China has launched two navigation satellites with one rocket, and the two satellites will help to improve the accuracy of the Beidou, or Compass system.
What is BeiDou Navigation System?
- The BeiDou Navigation System or BeiDou (Compass) Navigation Satellite System - a project by China to develop an independent satellite navigation system.
- Refers to either one or both generations of the Chinese navigation system.
- BeiDou Global Navigation and Positioning Network being built to counter the US Global Position System (GPS).
- China: BeiDou-1, BeiDou-2; Europe: Galileo Systems; Russian: GLONASS ; US: GPS
- BeiDou-1: The first BeiDou system (officially called BeiDou Satellite Navigation Experimental System, or known as BeiDou-1) - consists of 3 satellites and has limited coverage and applications. Offering navigation services mainly for customers in China and from neighbouring regions since 2000.
- Difference with others: Unlike the American GPS, Russian GLONASS, and European Galileo systems, which use medium Earth orbit satellites, BeiDou-1 uses satellites in geostationary orbit. This means that the system does not require a large constellation of satellites, but it also limits the coverage to areas on Earth where the satellites are visible.
- Compass or BeiDou-2: The 2nd generation of the system, known as Compass or BeiDou-2, which will be a global satellite navigation system consisting of 35 satellites, is still under construction. It became operational with coverage of China in December 2011 with 10 satellites in use. It is planned to offer services to customers in Asia-Pacific region by 2012 and the global system should be finished by 2020.