China puts final satellite for Beidou navigation network into orbit
A Long March-3B carrier rocket carrying the Beidou-3 satellite, the last satellite of China’s Beidou Navigation Satellite System, takes off from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province, China June 23, 2020. China Daily via REUTERS
BEIJING: China on Tuesday successfully put into orbit the final satellite of its Beidou navigation network, rival to the U.S.-owned GPS.
The mission was originally set for June 16, but was cancelled at the last minute due to technical problems detected during pre-launch tests of the Long March-3B carrier rocket.
The Beidou-3 satellite is the 35th and final satellite of the Chinese navigation system – an estimated US$10 billion project meant to be Beijing’s answer to the U.S.-owned Global Positioning System (GPS).
The idea to develop Beidou, or the Big Dipper in Chinese, took shape in the 1990s as China’s military sought to reduce its reliance on GPS, which is run by the U.S. Air Force.
Coverage was limited to China when the first Beidou-1 satellites were launched in 2000.
The second generation of Beidou-2 satellites went into operation in 2012, covering the Asia-Pacific region.
In 2015, China began deploying the third generation of Beidou-3 satellites aimed at global coverage.