China Successfully Launches Two Navigation Satellites
April 30, 2012

China Successfully Launches Two Navigation Satellites

Xinhua reported on Monday that China has successfully launched two satellites into space for its Beidou global navigation and positioning network.

The news agency said that the Bediou-2 satellites launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the southwestern province of Sichuan early Monday morning.

The rockets were taken into space aboard a Long March-3B carrier rocket, and have since entered their anticipated orbit.

This is the first time China has launched two navigation satellites with one rocket.  The satellites are the 12th and 13th of its global navigation and positioning network.

“The two satellites will help improve the accuracy of the Beidou, or Compass system,” the news agency quoted the center as saying in a statement.

China is planning to launch three more satellites for the Beidou network sometime this year, and its global satellite positioning and navigation system will be completed in 2020.

Beidou makes China just the third country in the world to have a global satellite positioning networking.  Other countries include the United State's GPS system, and Russia's planned Glonass satellite network.

Russia's Glonass satellite network has 31 satellites in orbit, but only 24 of them are operational, while four more are in reserve and two are under maintenance.

The Russian space agency Roscosmos said the country plans to spend $694 million on its Glonass system this year.

The U.S. is also planning to begin working on the successor to its GPS system, which is currently being used internationally until other countries' satellite systems become operational.

The next generation GPS system will give more reliability and security to both the military and civilians.  The new satellite system will be able to pinpoint a person's location within about 9 feet.

Monday's mission marked the 160th flight of China's Long March series of carrier rockets.