On Thursday, China has successfully launched a BeiDou-3 satellite completing its own global navigation system.
The satellite, the 55th in the family of BeiDou that means “Big Dipper” in Chinese, was launched at 9:43 a.m. (Beijing Time) and sent into the preset orbit by a Long March-3B carrier rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China’s Sichuan Province.
The cluster of navigation satellites — part of a $10bn system called BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS), — is made up of 35 satellites and provides global navigation coverage.
The new Chinese BDS navigation system is one of four global navigation satellite systems in the world. The other three global navigation systems are GPS of the United States, Galileo of the European Union, and GLONASS of Russia.
According to the Space.com, China began developing its Beidou satellite system in the 1990s, with the first satellite launching in October 2000. A lengthy upgrade of the system beginning in 2009, Xinhua said in a report last month.
The Chinese global navigation system will provide critical positioning capabilities to military, civil, and commercial users around the world.
BDS is used to aid land, sea and airborne navigation, geographical exploration, cartography and geodesy, surveying, vehicle location systems, search and rescue operations, aerial refuelling and rendezvous and a wide range of additional applications, including as a method of navigating the missile to the target.