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Home / World News / China says its Beidou system now fully operational, to challenge US’s GPS

China says its Beidou system now fully operational, to challenge US’s GPS

More than 100 countries including Pakistan and countries part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) are already using the system.

world Updated: Jul 31, 2020 13:11 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
A model of the BeiDou navigation satellites system is seen at an exhibition to mark China's Space Day 2019 on April 24, in Changsha, Hunan province, China.
A model of the BeiDou navigation satellites system is seen at an exhibition to mark China's Space Day 2019 on April 24, in Changsha, Hunan province, China.(REUTERS)

China on Friday said its fully operational home-made Beidou navigation satellite system is ready to provide global services, joining an elite group providing space-based systems comprising the US’s GPS, Russia’s GLONASS and the European Union’s Galileo.

Experts told Chinese state media that the “…completion of BeiDou-3 was due to the fact that core technologies cannot be bought or begged from other countries”.

More than 100 countries including Pakistan and countries part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) are already using the system.

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Over 300,000 scientists, engineers and technicians from more than 400 domestic institutes, universities and enterprises have been involved in Beidou’s development since the 1990s, official media reported Friday after President Xi Jinping commissioned the system at a ceremony held at the Great Hall of the People.

The Communist Party of China (CPC)-ruled government approved the research and development of a space-based navigation and positioning system, aiming to mitigate the country’s heavy reliance on foreign networks – the US GPS system – in February 1994.

The system was named “Beidou” after the Chinese term for the Big Dipper constellation.

“By the end of 2019 in the Chinese mainland, more than 6.5 million road vehicles, 40,000 postal and express delivery vehicles, 80,000 buses in 36 major cities, 3,200 inland navigation facilities, and 2,900 marine navigation facilities had adopted the BDS, forming the world’s largest dynamic monitoring system for road vehicles,” the tabloid Global Times said in a report on Friday.

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In late June, the final satellite to complete Beidou’s third-generation network was lifted by a Long March 3B carrier rocket at the Xichang satellite launch centre in the southwestern province of Sichuan province to be placed into a geostationary orbit about 36000 km above the Earth.

According to state media, it was the 30th satellite to be launched as part of the third-generation series – 59 have been launched in all since the 2000s.

“The civil signal from Beidou is no better than GPS or Galileo,” said Alexandra Stickings, a research analyst at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, a Britain-based think-tank told Reuters news agency in June.

India is developing its own navigation satellite system called the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System.

“IRNSS is an independent regional navigation satellite system being developed by India. It is designed to provide accurate position information service to users in India as well as the region extending up to 1500 km from its boundary, which is its primary service area,” the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) says on its website.

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