A Long March rocket carrying two Beidou satellites blasts off at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Southwest China's Sichuan province on Dec 16, 2019. (Photo: Guo Wenbin/chinadaily.com.cn)
China plans to launch the final satellite in the Beidou Navigation Satellite System's third-generation network next month, the China Satellite Navigation Office said.
The launch will mark the completion of the domestically developed Beidou network, the country's largest space-based system and one of four global navigation networks, along with the United States' GPS, Russia's GLONASS and the European Union's Galileo.
The office said on Sunday that a Long March 3B carrier rocket will be launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province to carry the last third-generation Beidou satellite to a geostationary orbit.
The satellite arrived at the center on April 4 and is undergoing final examinations, it said.
The spacecraft, the 59th in the Beidou family and the 30th in the third-generation series, was designed and made by the China Academy of Space Technology, a subsidiary of State-owned space conglomerate China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.
Ran Chengqi, the office's director, said the completed network will offer high-accuracy services to the world.
China began research and development of its own space-based navigation and positioning system in 1994, aiming to lessen its reliance on foreign networks.
In 2000, the country launched the first two Beidou satellites to establish an experimental system. In 2003 and 2007, another two experimental satellites were lifted up to join the trial run.
Beidou's first mass-production satellite, also the first in its second-generation series, was launched in April 2007. The first two third-generation satellites were launched in November 2017.
The deployment of Beidou's space-based assets accelerated in the past two years, with 17 launches placing 28 satellites into orbit. The most recent launch took place in March.
All of the satellites in the system have been carried into space by Long March 3B rockets launched from the Xichang center.
Beidou began providing positioning, navigation, timing and messaging services to civilian users in China and other parts of the Asia-Pacific region in December 2012. At the end of 2018, it started to provide global services.
According to statistics from the Global Navigation Satellite System and Location-Based Services Association of China, Beidou has been used by dozens of business and public sector agencies in China, in fields such as transportation, electric power generation, fishing, mining and agriculture, with tens of millions of Beidou-based terminal devices sold and in use.