China took a further step on Sunday towards ending its dependence on US satellites to provide navigation and positioning services.
A rocket carrying the fifth of a planned array of 35 orbiters blasted off from the Xichang space launch centre in Sichuan, southwest China, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Beijing started a drive to end its reliance on the US Global Positioning System in 2000, when it sent an experimental pair of positioning satellites into orbit.
China's necklace of satellites aims to provide navigation, time and short message services in the Asia-Pacific region before 2012 and will be capable of offering global navigation by 2020, Xinhua said.
The system, codenamed "COMPASS", will be crucial for the transport and oil exploration industries as well as for weather and disaster forecasting, telecommunications and public security, the news agency said.