China has added two more satellites to its BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) which rivals the US Global Positioning System (GPS). The satellites were launched into space on a Long March-3B carrier rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in Sichuan Province Monday night. The satellites entered a medium earth orbit more than three hours later and will work with 17 other BDS-3 satellites already in space, state run Xinhua news agency reported. With the successful launch, the basic BDS constellation deployment is complete, the report said.
China plans to provide navigation services with the BDS-3 to the Belt and Road partner countries by the end of this year, marking a key step toward a global navigation service, it said. Named after the Chinese term for the Big Dipper, the BeiDou system started serving China in 2000 and the Asia-Pacific region in 2012.
It will be the fourth global satellite navigation system after the US GPS system, Russia’s GLONASS and the European Union’s Galileo. India too is building its navigational system called the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), with an operational name of NAVIC. By around 2020, when the BeiDou system goes global, it will have more than 30 satellites, an earlier Xinhua report had said.