China to launch about 40 Beidou satellites by 2020

Beijing, Feb 5 (IANS) China plans to launch some 40 Beidou navigation satellites by 2020 to support its global navigation and positioning network, the media reported on Friday.

Eighteen more satellites will be put into orbit for Beidou’s navigation service by the end of 2018, said Ran Chengqi, spokesperson of the Beidou Navigation Satellite System and director of the China Satellite Navigation Office, on Thursday, the Global Times reported.

China plans to expand Beidou services to most of the countries covered in its “Belt and Road” initiatives by 2018, and offer global coverage by 2020.

Wang Zemin, the chief engineer of Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in Xichang, Sichuan province, said that the centre is now capable of launch 12 to 15 satellites a year after years of preparation.

Major navigation systems, such as the US-based GPS and Russia’s GLONASS, use about 24 satellites, but Beidou, with 35 satellites, will be more accurate after it achieves global coverage.

China plans to set up a Beidou system consisting of 35 satellites by 2020, which will provide global coverage with positioning accuracy of less than 10 metres and timing accuracy of 20 nanoseconds.

The Beidou system with its primary task of protecting national security has been widely used in maritime transport in China, and will be extended to wider areas including finance, electric power, fishery industry and scientific research, experts said.

On Monday, China launched the fifth of the new-generation Beidou satellites into orbit, which set the stage for global coverage by the Beidou navigation system, Ran said.

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