December 27, 2011
China Satellite Navigation System Up And Running
According to the Xinhua news agency, China's satellite navigation system launched a positioning service on Tuesday.
China started building its space-based navigation system in 2000 in order to stop having to rely on the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS).
The Beidou navigation system is now providing services for China and "surrounding areas," according to the Xinhua report.
Beijing will launch another six satellites in 2012 to expand it to most of the Asia-Pacific region.
The first Beidou satellite was launched in April 2007 after four other experimental satellites were placed in orbit earlier in the decade.
The system will have 35 satellites total after its completion, and will provide services such as mapping, fishery, transport, meteorology and telecommunications.
The Chinese military could also find its own uses with the Beidou navigation system. A 2004 study found that Beidou could be used to target cruise missiles against Taiwan if war broke out.
A 2011 report by defensepolicy.org said that the network could be used to guide drones to destroy foreign naval forces as well.
China Daily reported that the system could create $63.2 billion in related applications for the automotive, telecommunications, fishing and other industries by 2020.
China is not the only country trying to relieve itself from relying on U.S. technology. Russia has been building its Glonass navigation.
It recently launched a series of satellites to cover gaps in its system and it reported earlier this month that it covered 100 percent of the Earth's surface.
The European Union is also developing its own system known as Galileo. The first of this series of operational satellites entered orbit in October.