Science & Technology

Final satellite of China’s BDS navigation system ready for launch

Xichang Space Center, China, Jun 15 (efe-epa).- The last satellite of China’s BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) is ready for launch, sources from the organization behind the operation at the Xichang Space Center in southern China told EFE on Monday.

BDS, the Chinese alternative to the United States-owned Global Positioning System (GPS), could be launched Tuesday.

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 Space Launch Center, the Chinese Satellite Navigation Office said.

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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