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Navigation system to serve the globe by 2020

Two Beidou satellites have passed tests in orbit, bringing China one step closer in its plan to serve the globe with domestic-made satellites.

Beidou is China’s domestic alternative to the US-operated GPS. The most recent three satellites launched earlier this year have successfully linked with each other in outer space. That means China’s home-grown navigation system is ready for global coverage.

“The Chinese-made atomic clocks in the satellites are more stable and accurate compared with the previous generation,” said Xie Jun, chief engineer of Beidou Navigation Satellite System.

The inter-star link ensures that the least amount of data will be lost during transitioning, which is a key part of enhancing the accuracy of positioning.

“It will ensure that we can set up ground stations in limited land areas, so as to react quickly to any change happening in the satellites,” Xie said.

Real time data transition ensures full-day stable service for users in the Asia Pacific.

The region has already been covered by the Beidou system since 2012. 16 satellites have been offering positioning services with less than ten meter’s accuracy.

“We expect that by 2020, the global satellite system will be established,” said Sun Jiaodong, engineer of China Academy of Science.

In order to have global coverage, the country eventually aims to have 35 satellites in orbit by 2020. So far 20 of them have been running in outer space.

Engineers say the two satellites represent China’s highest level to date. The core parts also ensure signals will not be interrupted amid solar radiation episodes. China is the third country in the world to have its own navigation satellites.