China has successfully launched the last satellite that completes its home-grown Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) known as BeiDou.
The liftoff happened at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center (at 0143 GMT on June 23), located in the southern part of China. However, the launch got delayed by a week due to some technical problems.
China has achieved this fantastic feat after almost 20 years of launching satellites into space. Also, the deployment for the final satellite has also been completed six months ahead of schedule.
What is BeiDou?
Most of us often use the terms GPS and location interchangeably without thinking much. But in reality, GPS (aka NAVSTAR GPS) is also a GNSS which is owned by the US Government.
GPS has gained much popularity for being the industry-first. It was originally created for the US defense forces, but later after it was opened for public use, it made our lives a lot easier.
China’s offering consists of 35 BeiDou navigation satellites in total, and the first one was launched on October 30, 2000. The navigation satellites have been deployed in three phases, namely BeiDou-1, BeiDou-2, and BeiDou-3.
Here, the satellites launched as part of BeiDou-3 are technologically advanced than the previous phases. These can provide higher bandwidth and are fitted with atomic clocks to have precise time measurements and navigation services.
People are already using the BeiDou Navigation System
BeiDou-powered navigation services were opened to people in China back in 2012 and to global users in 2018. In fact, the service already has around 400 million users worldwide as of 2019.
Now that BeiDou has been fully launched, it would act as a viable alternative to GPS and would benefit China in many ways.
Just like GPS, BeiDou satellites can also be connected with compatible smartphones and devices to provide navigation services. For the navigation to work properly, a device must be able to receive signals from at least four satellites at a given time.
Not just China, but Russia (GLONASS) and Europe (Galileo) are also working on their global navigation systems. In addition, India is readying its regional navigation system called NavIC, which will cater to the Indian Subcontinent primarily.
Meanwhile, the US is also busy with upgrading its navigation system by deploying GPS Block III – a pool of 10 satellites. The third GPS Block III satellite will be launched on June 30 with the help of Space X Falcon 9 rocket.