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China Completes Beidou Satellite Navigation System

28 Jun 2020, 18:02 UTC
China Completes Beidou Satellite Navigation System
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Note: As of June 28, 2019. Adapted from Kazuhiro Kida and Shinichi Hashimoto, “China’s Version of GPS Now Has More Satellites than US Original,” Nikkei Asian Review, August 19, 2019.

by Douglas MessierManaging Editor

China completed its Beidou satellite navigation system with a launch last week, fully standing up a rival to the American Global Positioning System (GPS), Europe’s Galileo constellation, and Russia’s GLONASS system and strengthening the nation as a space power.

A Long March 3B booster launched the 35th Beidou-3 satellite from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center on June 23. Beidou can now provide full global service with 30 active satellites.

China began developing Beidou, which is named for the Big Dipper constellation, in the 1990’s. The first launch in the series was of the BeiDou-1A satellite took place on Oct. 30, 2000.

In its 2019 Report to Congress, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission said Beidou is a “vital component” of Beijing’s space diplomacy as the rival to GPS gains increasing acceptance around the world. [Full Report]

“China has used it as a tool of geopolitical and diplomatic competition which would deepen users’ reliance on China for space-based services, potentially at the expense of U.S. Influence,” ...

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