China launches latest global positioning system competing with satellites in global navigation


A model of the Beidou navigation satellite system during an exhibition in China. (Reuters)


China on Tuesday launched the latest satellite in its local geolocation system designed to compete with the US GPS network, marking a major step in its race for market share in the lucrative sector.

Images from state television CCTV of the launch in southwest Sichuan province showed the rocket exploding against the backdrop of lush mountains as a small group of spectators filmed on their phones.

The launch of the Beidou-3GEO3 satellite from the Xichang satellite launch center was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but was delayed due to “unspecified” technical problems, “the Chinese space agency said.

The completion of the satellite network makes China a key player in the billion dollar geolocation services market, observers said.

Beidou – named after the Chinese term for the plow constellation or “Big Dipper” – is intended to compete with the Global Positioning System (GPS) of the United States, the GLONASS of Russia and the Galileo of the Union European.

“I think the Beidou-3 system is operational is a big event,” Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told AFP.

“It is a big investment from China and makes China independent from the American and European systems.”

China started building its global navigation system in the early 1990s to help cars, fishing boats and oil tankers navigate using map data from the country’s satellites.

The service can now be used on millions of mobile phones to find nearby restaurants, gas stations or cinemas, to guide taxis and missiles and to fly unmanned drones.

The coverage provided by Beidou, which has been in commercial use since 2012, was initially limited to the Asia-Pacific region, but global service has been available since 2018.

The system operates on a network of around thirty satellites.

According to Chinese state media, about 120 countries, including Pakistan and Thailand, use Beidou’s services to monitor port traffic, to guide rescue operations during disasters and other services.

Beijing relies on $ 1 trillion belt and road global infrastructure project to convince other participating countries to use its technology as it attempts to gain market share through GPS – although some experts questioned his ability to do so.

McDowell told AFP that he did not think Beidou would be able to “supplant GPS in the next 10 or even 20 years.”

(With the exception of the title, this story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)


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