China Begins Using New Global Positioning Satellite System

Posted December 27th, 2011 at 9:30 am (UTC-5)
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China has begun trial operations of its Beidou satellite navigation system, taking a further step toward ending its dependence on U.S. satellites to provide navigation and positioning services.

Ran Chengqi, director of the management office of the China Satellite Navigation System, told reporters Tuesday Beidou, or “Big Dipper” will cover most parts of the Asia Pacific region by next year, and the world by 2020.

He said the trial operations mark the transition from the system's construction to its application.

“Preliminary tests show that the basic positioning and navigation system of Beidou has reached the preset standards and we have officially moved from the test system to the working system.”

China has launched 10 satellites to support Beidou and is expected to launch six more in 2012. State media have said the system will eventually comprise at least 30 satellites, which will be used for a variety of sectors, including fisheries, meteorology and telecommunications.

China began building the Beidou system in 2000 to break Beijing's dependence on the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) and create its own global positioning system by 2020.