China plans to establish a next-generation space-based navigation and positioning system by 2035, said a government official overseeing the sector.
Ran Chengqi, director of the China Satellite Navigation Office, said at a news conference held by the State Council Information Office on Friday in Beijing that the next-generation system, which has yet to be named, will be accessible to users anywhere, anytime on Earth.
"The new system will be 'omnipresent, smarter and more integrated'. We plan to complete the system by 2035 and upon its completion, there will be Beidou service not only on land and sea, but also in the sky, outer space and deep within the oceans," Ran said.
The official said that the current Beidou network consists of satellites in medium and high-altitude orbits while system designers are considering the inclusion of low-orbit satellites in the new system to take advantage of low-orbit communication networks.
By doing so, the new-generation system will be able to provide navigation and positioning services with much better accuracy, Ran added.
On the improvement of the current Beidou system, he said project managers have made plans to deploy backup satellites.
"Our work schedule includes development and production of backup satellites. We plan to launch three to five backup craft into space next year to strengthen the space-based network's stability and reliability," the official said.
At the news conference, a white paper titled "China's Beidou Navigation Satellite System in the New Era" was distributed.
The document says that Beidou has been built into a world-class navigation system. It lays out how China plans to refine the system and pledges to step up international cooperation for better compatibility and interoperability between Beidou and other navigation satellite systems.
The white paper is the second of its kind. The first was published in June 2016. Beidou is currently China's largest civilian satellite system and one of four global navigation networks, along with the United States' GPS, Russia's GLONASS and the European Union's Galileo.
Since 2000, a total of 59 Beidou satellites, including the first four experimental ones, have been lifted on 44 Long March 3 series rockets from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province. Currently, there are 45 satellites in active service.
In June 2020, the final satellite to complete Beidou's third-generation network was lifted by a Long March 3B rocket at the Xichang center. The following month, President Xi Jinping announced that the system had been completed and had begun providing full-scale global services.
According to the Global Navigation Satellite System and Location-Based Services Association of China, by the end of 2021, the overall value of satellite-enabled navigation and positioning services in China stood at 469 billion yuan ($65 billion), a 16.3 percent increase year-on-year.