China to complete BeiDou, its alternative to GPS, in mid-2020

The construction of China’s BeiDou-3 Navigation Satellite System (BDS-3) will be completed in 2020 with the launch of its final two satellites into orbit before June next year.

The spokesman for the agency responsible for developing the system, Ran Chengqi, announced it at a press conference held on the occasion of the first anniversary of the start of BeiDou’s global operations. This December 27 marks the first anniversary of the launch of the global service of the Chinese BDS-3 system, the Chinese alternative to the Global Positioning System (GPS) of the United States.

Throughout 2019, China has launched ten BeiDou satellites into space. It is also planned that a more ubiquitous, integrated, and intelligent navigation and timing system with comprehensive national positioning capability will be established by 2035.

The Beidou-3 system was already underway in China and parts of the Asia-Pacific region since December 2012 and began operating worldwide last month of last year. With improved capabilities for intelligent operation and maintenance, the BDS-3 has provided a stable and precise service, exhibiting a positioning accuracy of less than five meters.

China began building its own navigation Satellite system in 2000 to end its dependence on the GPS system. The system has multiple service capabilities, including the expansion of information via satellite, communication through short messages, an extension of information on the ground, as well as international search and rescue.

The third generation of BeiDou will consist of 30 satellites. Most of them will circle in a Medium Earth Orbit (MEO). Three each are positioned in a geosynchronous orbit (GEO) and an inclined geosynchronous orbit (IGSO). Six of the MEO satellites will be integrated into the Cospas-Sarsat search and rescue system.

China wants to market BeiDou services in Southeast Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe, among others. According to Ran, more than 70 percent of smartphones in China are already equipped for BeiDou. In addition to China and the USA, Europe also operates its own navigation satellite systems with Galileo and Russia with GLONASS.

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