Science & Technology

China to launch final satellite of BDS navigation system on Tuesday

(Update 1: adds source in lede, more details)

Xichang Space Center, China, Jun 15 (efe-epa).- The last satellite of China’s BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) is set to be launched on Tuesday at 10.11 am, Ran Chengqi, director of the China Satellite Navigation Office, told EFE on Monday.

The BDS has long been promoted as the Chinese alternative to the United States-owned Global Positioning System (GPS).

After being launched from the Xichang Space Launch Center in southern China, the satellite would be in its orbit in approximately 45 minutes, when it would be possible to confirm if the mission has been a success, Ran said.

The BDS-3 satellite has completed its ground technical tests and the Long March-3B carrier rocket, which will take it into space, is ready at the Xichang center, the CSNO had said earlier on Monday.

The carrier rocket underwent a series of tests before being filled with the conventional cryogenic propellant and was found to meet the requirements of the mission, according to the Office.

The satellite, when it enters orbit, will complete the network of 35 third-generation devices (BDS-3) of the BeiDou navigation system, which the Asian country launched in 2015 to provide global positioning coverage.

China began building its own satellite navigation system in 2000 to end its dependence on the GPS system, and decided to call it BeiDou, a name that ancient Chinese astronomers gave to the seven brightest stars of the Big Dipper or Plough constellation.

Until now, it consists of two separate satellite constellations or groups, BeiDou-1 and BeiDou-2.

BeiDou-1 comprises of three satellites that have been offering limited coverage and navigation and positioning services to China and several neighboring countries since 2000.

BeiDou-2 began operating in December 2011 with 10 satellites in orbit and offers geolocation services to countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

With the conclusion of Beidou-3, the system will cover the entire world by this year, and provide an alternative to the three existing space projects for navigation – the GPS of the US, Galileo from the European Union and Russia’s GLONASS.

The system will give China greater independence from the US and give rise to competition between the two global powers in a sector that has so far been dominated by American technology.

The BeiDou navigation network was first conceived in the 1990s, when the Chinese military sought to reduce its dependence on GPS, developed by the US department of defense and initially restricted to military use.

According to its promoters, Beidou will have a deviation margin of 10 centimeters, providing a greater accuracy margin than the 30 centimeters of the GPS.

China’s estimated investment in the project exceeds $10 billion.

Several US experts have said that Beijing’s system has improved geolocation accuracy given that it was designed a few decades after Washington’s network.

According to Chinese state media, BeiDou has already been used in nearly 120 countries, especially Southeast Asia and Africa, for services such as disaster prevention and management, observation and control of traffic in ports and roads, among other wide-ranging uses.

In China, 70 percent of mobile phones are enabled with the BeiDou positioning system. EFE-EPA


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