China plans to build BeiDou into a global positioning and navigation system by 2020, making it the third country in the world after the United States and Russia to operate its own navigation system. Photograph: (Reuters)
In a bid to win the competition in satellite communication, China plans to build global positioning and navigation system in the next three years to join the big two - US and Russia- as the war in space technology hots up around the world.
China had launched the two BeiDou satellites officially called BeiDou Navigation Satellite system(BDS) into space on Sunday to increase its global footprint.
According to China's Global Times, the satellites were aboard a Long March-3B carrier rocket which took off from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the southwestern province of Sichuan.
The BeiDou satellites named after Chinese term for the plough or the Big Dipper constellation was started in 1994.
"China plans to build BeiDou into a global positioning and navigation system by around 2020, making it the third country in the world after the United States and Russia to operate its own navigation system," China's Global Times said.
"New technology has significantly improved the performance of the BeiDou-3, with the signal accuracy in space higher than half a meter while its positioning accuracy has reached 2.5 to five meters," the Global Times quoted Yang Changfeng, chief designer of the BeiDou system as saying.
China hopes the BeiDou satellite will prove to be a game-changer by expanding its footprints to countries along the One Belt, One Road(OBOR) route. Pakistan is set to be the biggest bineficiary of the project as it is a key ally of China over the OBOR project.
"The BeiDou-2 is strategically the second step. Its positioning accuracy in regional wide was higher than 10 meters. The BeiDou-3 is scheduled to offer service to countries along the Belt and Road routes in 2018 and will go global in 2020," Deputy chief designer of the BeiDou-3 Project Xie Jun told Reuters.
By around 2020, when the system goes global, it will have more than 30 satellites," the Global Times said.
The third generation BeiDou-3 satellites developed by China Academy of Space Technology and China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology has so far combined with various technologies such as big data, Internet of Things and telecommunications to provide richer comprehensive services, Reuters reported.
"BeiDou-1 actually achieved providing positioning service to users on the ground or at low altitudes through satellites, which marked a milestone for China, " Xie Jun told Reuters.
"The satellite navigation system is actually a kind of space infrastructure. It is very important to traffic, power and statistics of cash flow among banks. These are lifelines to the nation. If we rely on foreign countries for these critical lifeline systems, strategically it is very dangerous to the national security," he said.
"Our country must build its own self-developed BDS that can run independently," Xie asserted.