China has added two satellites to its homegrown global navigation and positioning network that seeks to reduce reliance on the United States-based Global Positioning System, state media reported on Monday.
The pair of Beidou-3 satellites were launched aboard a single Long March-3B rocket from the Xichang launch centre in the southwestern province of Sichuan on Sunday night, broadcaster CCTV and the Xinhua News Agency reported.
China plans to complete a network linking more than 30 satellites providing real-time geo-spatial information worldwide by 2020.
The system started operating in mainland China in 2000 and then expanded to cover the Asia-Pacific region in 2012. The Beidou-3 satellites represent an upgrade with greater accuracy and an enhanced ability to communicate with other satellite navigation systems.
The network would eventually provide monitoring and safety information along the nation’s multinational infrastructure mega project, the Belt and Road Initiative, designed to link China with Central Asia, Europe, Africa and beyond.
On completion, Beidou, which means Big Dipper in Chinese, will join GPS, Russia’s GLONASS and the European Union’s Galileo as satellite navigation systems with global coverage. India, France and Japan are also developing regional systems.