Last Satellite of China’s BeiDou Satellite System 3 (BDS-3) Launched

In an effort to compete with the United States Government’s NAVSTAR Global Positioning System (GPS), Russia’s GLONASS, and the Galileo Systems of the European Union,  China completed the launch of its final satellite on 23rd June 2020. The satellite was launched as a carrier with Long March 3 rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre. BeiDou means ‘Big Dipper’ in Mandarin.

The satellite launched is a part of the third generation of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS-3) and was the 55th satellite of the Beidou system.

BeiDou System

  • First Generation (BDS-1): This system was launched with three working and one backup satellites between 2000 to 2003. This system was decommissioned in the year 2012. This navigation system provided limited coverage for users in China as an experimental basis. The first satellite under this system was launched on 30th October 2000.
  • Second Generation (BDS-2): This system provides coverage in the Asia-Pacific Region and is still operational. BDS-2 was started in December 2011. The entire system consists of 10 working satellites. The first satellite under this system was launched on 13th April 2007.
  • Third Generation (BDS-3): This system was aimed to provide global coverage. The first satellite under BDS-3 was launched on 30th March 2015. This system comprises of 35 satellites (3 Geosynchronous satellite, 3 Inclined Geosynchronous Satellite, 24 Medium Earth Orbits Satellite).

BDS-3 has started providing global navigation services from December 2018 to countries that had signed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of China. The global constellation of the BeiDou satellite system is expected to be completed in the upcoming months. Once completed, it will be able to provide services such as precise point positioning, short message communication, and also can be used for international search and rescue operations globally.

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