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Plans to launch satellites for global navigation network

Guo Kai
Updated: Jan 10,2017 4:29 PM

A Long March-3C carrier rocket carrying the 23rd satellite in the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) lifts off from Xichang Satellite Launch Center, Southwest China’s Sichuan province, June 12, 2016.[Photo/Xinhua]

China plans to launch up to eight new generation navigation satellites into space this year, according to researchers from the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System.

BeiDou chief designer Yang Hui told China News Service that they hope to start launching the BeiDou-3 satellites in summer.

“We have prepared some satellites, and plan to launch them into space in 2017 with the model of ‘one rocket, two satellites’.”

China’s BeiDou-2 navigation system was honored with the Top Science and Technology Progress Award on Monday, together with 19 other projects including the Chang’e-3 project.

China followed a three-step strategy to build up the BeiDou navigation system.

The BeiDou-2 system was up and running by 2012 with 14 satellites and 32 ground stations, an assistant to chief designer, Guo Shuren, said.

Guo said that the agenda showed that six to eight BeiDou-3 satellites would be launched, to form the start of a global network.

The BeiDou navigation system provides positioning and navigation services for China as a first step. While the BeiDou-2 system covers the Asia-Pacific Region, the BeiDou-3 system offer services to the globe.

Yang said that the BeiDou-3 system will gradually extend coverage from one-third to the whole globe. The satellites will improve the positioning accuracy to within 2 meters for civilian use, and have a lifespan of 12 years.

The BeiDou-3 system will first provide services to the regions along the “one belt, one road,” in 2018, and by 2020 provide services globally.

“We launched 14 BeiDou-2 satellites from 2010 to 2012. In the following three years, we expect to launch 30 satellites, creating a new miracle,” Guo said.

The central government released a white paper titled “China’s Space Activities in 2016” in December that includes plans to form a BeiDou network consisting of 35 satellites for global navigation services by 2020.

The country plans to start providing basic services to countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-century Maritime Silk Road in 2018, according to the document.

It aims to provide all clients with more accurate and more reliable services through advancing the ground-based and satellite-based augmentation systems, it said.